School bus stuck under railroad crossing arm

Published: Feb. 23, 2018 at 6:57 PM CST
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A Fargo driver passing through Harwood captured shocking video of a school bus that got caught between a railroad track and the crossing arms—while kids were on board.

The man who recorded it, wishing to remain anonymous, says he noticed the bus was from the Northern Cass school district.

"Basically just thinking, you know, kids...what could have happened," he said.

The schools’ superintendent, Cory Steiner, confirms there were kids in that bus.

"We run buses into Harwood to pick up students who are enrolled into our district," Steiner said.

But the witness tells us the bus wasn't trying to drive straight through the tracks when it got stuck.

"I could see the school bus going there with the lights flashing, 'cuz they always gotta stop at the tracks," he said.

According to North Dakota Century Code 39-10-43, certain vehicles—including school buses—must stop at all railroad crossings.

"And then, what I think is, after he stopped for so long, he started to go forward, and that's when the arms came down," the witness said.

Superintendent Steiner says he and the school resource officer reviewed the bus's video and came to that same conclusion.

But state law says the bus driver—who was a substitute for the day—should have stopped between 15 and 50 feet from the nearest rail.

Steiner says the driver couldn't see exactly where the tracks started because of the snow.

"The driver did everything in his power to make sure the kids stayed safe," he said.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation tells us the distance between the crossing arms and the nearest rail is 15 feet.

We reached out to the state highway patrol to find out if the action was illegal, and whether there would be any repercussions, but we didn't hear back by deadline.

But either way, it's a good reminder to keep your distance at the tracks.