UPDATE: 27 people on school bus involved in deadly Nelson County crash

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 4:56 PM CDT
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PETERSBURG, N.D. (Valley News Live) - One person is dead after a crash between a pickup and a school bus filled with members of a school volleyball team.

Law enforcement officials say it happened at 3:45 p.m. Thursday, September 14, in the area of Highway 32 and 34th Street NE. The initial emergency call reported multiple injuries and dispatchers were asked to send “as many ambulances as possible.”

The North Dakota Highway Patrol says the school bus, which was carrying members of the Hatton Northwood volleyball team, was traveling north on Highway 32 on their way to Petersburg for a game.

A pickup truck, driven by 68-year-old Archie Gronvold of Barton, ND, was traveling west on Nelson County Road 4. While Gronvold’s vehicle was crossing Highway 32, the Highway Patrol says it was hit on the driver’s side by the bus.

According to the crash report, 27 people were on the bus at the time, including 25 children, 1 coach and 1 bus driver. The students on the bus were between the ages of 14 and 17. Multiple passengers on the school bus, including Coach Jana Mehus, 25, Hatton, were transported to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks for injuries sustained in the crash.

Several students spent the night in the hospital, but the Highway Patrol says none of the students suffered life threatening injuries. The bus driver, Shari Bilden, 56, of Northwood, was also taken to the hospital. Gronvold, the driver of the pickup, died at the scene.

Altru released a statement, saying: “Altru is caring for patients in our Emergency Department who were involved in a traffic incident. During this response, we remain ready to care for all patients who need emergent care and encourage those seeking care to continue as planned.”

The DOT closed Highway 32 in Nelson County between Highway 15 and US 2 while they investigated the crash on Thursday.

The Highway Patrol thanked the many emergency responders who helped at the scene, including: Nelson County Sheriff’s Office, Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office, North Dakota Game and Fish, Northwood Police Department, Petersburg Rural Fire, Michigan Whitman Rural Fire, Aneta Fire, Lake Region Ambulance, Spirit Lake Ambulance, Altru Grand Forks Ambulance, Devils Lake Paramedic, Valley Ambulance, Lakota Ambulance, McVille Ambulance, Larimore Ambulance, Fordville Ambulance, Park River Ambulance, Nelson County Emergency Management, Walsh County Emergency Management, and Interstate Towing.

The Northwood School has set up an account at the Goose River Bank in Hatton. All funds raised will support the Thunder Volleyball team. Checks can be written to the Hatton School, but can be dropped off at either school or sent to the Goose River Bank directly.