The driver of the Metro Transit bus that jumped a curb on a busy downtown street in Minneapolis on Friday, veered out of control and then crashed has died.
The Star Tribune reports the driver suffered a suspected medical emergency behind the wheel. The newspaper added that witnesses said the driver passed out as the bus was speeding south on the Nicollet Mall.
The driver was loaded on a stretcher and taken from the scene by emergency medical personnel to Hennepin County Medical Center, said transit spokesman Drew Kerr. The driver's identity has not been released.
“Metro Transit extends its deepest sympathies and condolences to the operator’s family and friends,” Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb told WCCO. “Metro Transit operators are in many ways an extended family and this loss will be felt throughout the organization.”
Lamb said the driver has been a Metro Transit employee since 2013.
Ambulances, police and fire officials were on the scene after the crash, which left two cyclists slightly injured.
The No. 10 route bus reportedly sustained significant damage to its front end and windshield. Witnesses said they saw the bus run over garbage cans and smash into light posts before destroying the awning over the WCCO's Mall Studio awning.
“It was like a tornado was coming to meet us, but really we were just on the sidewalk just tearing down, it was devastating,” said witness Riley Coley, who counted about a dozen people on the bus at the time.
The station says the bus narrowly missed WCCO meteorologist Mike Augustyniak, who was walking down the mall.
“You do a quick calculation: Do I run away or sneak by it?” Augustyniak told his station. “Because it was moving so slowly, I decided to run toward it and around it, but had to jump over some debris that was being pushed towards me.”
BringMeTheNews.com's Kevyn Burger snapped photos at the scene of the accident.