A 3-year-old Cottage Grove boy was killed Monday following a collision between a school bus and a minivan Monday in Woodbury.
Wyatt Scheller was a passenger in the van, which was attempting to make a left turn into St. Ambrose Catholic Church at about 9:10 a.m. Jan. 3, when it was rear-ended by a District 833 school bus.
Police said both vehicles were traveling southbound on County Road 19, just south of Bailey Road. The boy was pronounced dead at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. The driver and boy's father, John Scheller, suffered minor injuries. No one was else was in the minivan.
Woodbury police Capt. Jay Alberio said the child was properly secured in a child-safety seat in the second row of the three-row minivan.
Alberio said it's early in the investigation. "It might be the cause of (the bus) driver inattentiveness," he added. "But we still have to rule out other factors, such as mechanical failure, alcohol and drugs."
The driver of the bus was Jose C. Flores, 36, a part-time driver in the district since 2002. No charges have been filed against him at this time. He was alone on the bus, and was not injured but was taken to Woodwinds Hospital for an evaluation.
Flores has completed all required training and periodic testing and has no accidents on his record with District 833, district officials said. In keeping with district practice involving injury accidents, he has been placed on administrative leave until investigation of the accident is complete.
"The loss of a child is unbelievably sad," said Superintendent John Regan. "Everyone in our district shares the sadness and expresses profound sympathy to the boy's parents and family. We know that they are living a family's worst nightmare."
Wyatt was a preschool student at St. Ambrose Catholic School, and was being dropped off. Wyatt's older sibling is also a student at the school.
Matthew Metz, principal of St. Ambrose, said the incident occurred during the preschool drop-off period, and the school's students in grades kindergarten through 8 were unaware of it.
Metz added they would likely find out about the incident after school.
"We didn't tell the children about it, because we didn't have all of the facts," he said. "Instead, we sent a letter home to our parents, asking them to talk with their children. Children will have questions about life and death following something like this, and the best people to have that conversation are parents."
The school had several counselors on site yesterday, and has scheduled a Mass at 10 a.m. today in the church, 4125 Woodbury Drive.
"We want to celebrate this boy's life and pray for him," Metz said. "We're trying to help everyone heal, and we're praying for the family, the boy and the driver. He and his family are in significant pain as well."
The investigation will take several weeks, as alcohol and drug tests are conducted by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Minnesota State Patrol does a reconstruction of the accident.
Potential charges could be misdemeanor inattentive or careless driving, Alberio said. Alberio added the bus wasn't traveling over the speed limit.