BRAINERD, Minn. — A quick-thinking citizen's call to police led to a high school tennis team's bus driver being cited by police with DWI.
The caller told police he witnessed the driver dispose of beer cans out the door of the bus Thursday afternoon, Sept. 17. The Baxter Police Department tracked down the Bemidji Bus Lines vehicle at Brainerd High School and cited the driver with fourth-degree driving while intoxicated.
At the time of police arrival, the Brainerd Warriors girls tennis team and coach were not yet on the bus for their Thursday match in Willmar, Minn. According to Activities Director Charlie Campbell, the team did not get on the bus because coaches were concerned when the driver said he wasn’t feeling well and might have a cold.
“Our coach was concerned, you know, when you’re not feeling well during a pandemic, you stay home,” Campbell said by phone Thursday night. “ … We were actually really trying to quickly triage, what should we do if the driver’s not feeling well? We’re not sure we should get on that bus and go to Willmar. And as we were kind of triaging that, that’s when the police showed up.”
According to Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted, the caller who witnessed the beer can disposal provided a detailed description of the bus, including a bus number, which allowed officers to quickly determine where it was headed and to intervene.
“Kudos to the individual who reported this. They were very observant and took it upon themselves to contact law enforcement after seeing this action,” Exsted said Thursday night. “Honestly, it isn’t too often you can say for certainty that a crime was prevented."
Exsted said the caller prevented a busload of high school girls from being put in a dangerous situation. Meanwhile, the tennis team was forced to postpone its match with Willmar.
Bemidji Bus Lines is one of a number of area bus companies used to transport students as a subcontractor for Reichert Bus Service, according to Campbell.
“Reichert is outstanding in their service with us and we’ve generally always had good service when Bemidji Bus Lines has driven us. This was just a single driver that made some really poor choices,” Campbell said. “So thankful that it turned out. For our kids and people on the road, it turned out nobody got hurt.”