Belmond-Klemme school bus driver commended for heroics after crash

Driver and four students on board escaped with no injuries.

Posted: Dec 12, 2018 8:42 PM
Updated: Dec 13, 2018 6:56 AM

BELMOND, Iowa - Belmond-Klemme school district bus driver Randy Dougherty says he was just doing his job, but after his handling of a crash with a semi tractor-trailer, he's being called a hero.

The crash happened at 4 p.m. Tuesday at County Highway C20 and Page Avenue, about three miles west of Belmond in Wright County.

Officials say the collision spun the full-size bus 180 degrees, but amazingly, it stayed on the road and the four students on-board plus Dougherty weren't hurt. The semi driver allegedly did not see the bus and ran a stop sign and into the the rear of the bus.

Dougherty is no stranger to driving a school bus, as he's been behind the wheel for nearly four decades. He loves his job, and loves his precious cargo.

"I like the interaction with them. I really like it when they respect me and listen to my words. And they do, they always have."

When he was transportation director for the district, a driver rear-ended one of his buses, killing a student. That awful incident remains with him.

"It etched in my mind pretty deep and so when this took place, all of that came back to me as to how to handle things and what to do. It all came together," he said.

Dougherty saw the semi on his left approaching the intersection, and wasn't 100 percent sure that it would be able stop in time. Though he tried to tried to accelerate as hard as he could to avoid being hit, the semi hit the back drivers' side wheel. After the collision, he jumped right into action, asking the students if they were alright and contacted authorities, parents and key players immediately. When a school bus is hit, it's all about grace under pressure, he said.

"I know that's not easy to say, but the calmer ... you react and you act much better under those conditions."

Seventh-grader Shyann Martin was one of the four students on the bus, along with her younger brothers Gabriel and William, as well as a Kindergartner. Recalling what she learned from two prior experiences with accidents, she braced for the impact.

"I literally banged my head on the window and went forward on the seat and backward really hard. And all I hurt was my elbow and a little bit of my head, but all I had was a headache last night and I was really, really tired."

She feels blessed that the situation didn't turn out much worse.

"Our blood pressures might have been a little high, because we literally just got into an accident. We were all fine, no injuries, may have had little bruises on butts and all that, but none of us had major injuries like that."

Dougherty says he plans to keep on driving.

"I'll be here until they say we don't need you anymore. I'm happy and everything's been great. I couldn't ask for a better school district."

Current transportation director Jon Swenson says that the bus will likely be retired due to the damage.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 139444

Reported Deaths: 2440
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin34988995
Ramsey14471364
Dakota10132138
Anoka9160153
Washington623372
Stearns608248
Scott354934
Olmsted335930
St. Louis314271
Wright265315
Clay246443
Nobles231918
Blue Earth20857
Carver18677
Kandiyohi17835
Sherburne176322
Rice168310
Mower153918
Winona129619
Chisago11142
Crow Wing108322
Benton10099
Lyon10076
Waseca9419
Beltrami9278
Otter Tail9217
Todd8726
Morrison8029
Steele7873
Polk7864
Itasca77117
Nicollet75618
Douglas7344
Freeborn7004
Le Sueur6516
Goodhue63311
Martin61918
McLeod6154
Becker6044
Isanti5835
Watonwan5814
Pine5630
Carlton4832
Chippewa4693
Mille Lacs43216
Hubbard4233
Cass4055
Dodge4050
Wabasha4050
Pipestone36117
Rock3555
Meeker3483
Brown3353
Roseau3000
Redwood29411
Yellow Medicine2946
Murray2913
Cottonwood2900
Fillmore2650
Renville26313
Sibley2623
Wadena2573
Faribault2440
Kanabec23010
Houston2201
Jackson2191
Swift2122
Pennington2091
Unassigned19553
Lincoln1910
Aitkin1882
Stevens1861
Koochiching1765
Pope1650
Big Stone1531
Lac qui Parle1453
Wilkin1424
Marshall1371
Lake1290
Clearwater1281
Mahnomen1282
Norman1280
Grant1024
Red Lake822
Traverse580
Kittson500
Lake of the Woods451
Cook180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 119931

Reported Deaths: 1677
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk19440289
Woodbury735998
Johnson596531
Black Hawk5862102
Linn5823132
Dubuque538358
Scott474442
Story408218
Dallas352547
Pottawattamie333245
Sioux249817
Buena Vista227912
Marshall209036
Webster192315
Plymouth170331
Wapello157362
Clinton151627
Muscatine151258
Des Moines147310
Cerro Gordo146127
Crawford137014
Warren12947
Carroll118913
Jasper115034
Henry10955
Marion104811
Tama98637
Lee98311
Delaware81713
Dickinson7769
Wright7481
Boone7369
Mahaska72824
Bremer7029
Harrison68415
Washington67711
Jackson6623
Benton6222
Lyon5598
Clay5474
Louisa53415
Winnebago50619
Winneshiek4969
Cedar4947
Hardin4887
Kossuth4850
Hamilton4794
Buchanan4755
Poweshiek47211
Jones4704
Clayton4613
Floyd45211
Emmet44620
Iowa4299
Page4190
Guthrie41315
Mills4133
Cass4123
Cherokee4112
Sac4074
Butler3963
Franklin39318
Shelby3932
Fayette3924
Allamakee3879
Madison3713
Chickasaw3691
Clarke3573
Humboldt3503
Hancock3394
Grundy3326
Palo Alto3262
Calhoun3234
Osceola2930
Mitchell2881
Howard2819
Monroe26411
Union2635
Taylor2522
Jefferson2471
Monona2472
Pocahontas2382
Appanoose2343
Fremont2121
Lucas2106
Ida2082
Adair1911
Greene1890
Montgomery1877
Davis1854
Van Buren1842
Keokuk1711
Decatur1600
Audubon1561
Worth1460
Wayne1343
Ringgold922
Adams841
Unassigned90
Rochester
Overcast
30° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 30°
Mason City
Overcast
32° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 32°
Albert Lea
Overcast
30° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 30°
Austin
Overcast
32° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 32°
Charles City
Overcast
32° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 27°
Tracking a breezy weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events