Criminal charges have been filed in last month's bus shelter crash in north Minneapolis, which left five people injured, two of them seriously.
On Friday, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office announced five counts of criminal vehicular operation against George Reeves Jensen, an 83-year-old from Champlin.On July 9, his van crashed into the bus stop near Broadway and Lyndale avenues, toppling the structure. Three people were found pinned under the rubble, and one person was pinned under the passenger side of Jensen's van, a news release notes.
It turns out Jensen had been seen by witnesses pulling his van up to the same bus stop and talking to three women there earlier:
One of the witnesses said it appeared Jensen was trying to pay one of the women but none of them were interested, the complaint states. One of the women told police that she knew Jensen as Howard and that he had been coming around for three years and would give the women $10 if they would give him their phone number.
After that, according to the release, the van pulled away from the bus stop, beginning an erratic journey in which it sideswiped a Metro Transit bus and, at one point, drove with two wheels on the sidewalk before crashing into the shelter.
(You can read the step-by-step account of the vehicle's course in the criminal complaint.)
As to the "why," that's still not clear. Jensen told investigators that he had "hit the gas accidentally instead of the brake," though the county attorney's release suggests this does not fully explain what happened.
They also say Jensen gave interviewers "conflicting statements" about the moments leading up to the crash.
However, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says, there was not enough evidence to file any further charges against Jensen:
“This case is perplexing because it clearly fits within the criminal vehicular operation statute, but the injuries resulting from Mr. Jensen’s driving raises questions about more severe charges,” Freeman said. “Our deepest sympathies are with the innocent people who were just waiting at the bus stop and suddenly were suffering severe injuries. But after reviewing the thorough investigation, we just did not have the facts to charge something other than criminal vehicular operation.”
The injuries the victims suffered were grievous.
Among others, one person had fractures of the pelvis, ribs and vertebra; another had a fractured spine; and one victim suffered a traumatic brain injury.
The incident came just a couple of months after another crash involving a vehicle and a bus shelter in Minneapolis.
In May, one man had to have his leg amputated and two others were injured after a car crashed into a shelter on Lake Street.