Wrongful death lawsuit filed in bus accident

by April Scheinoha

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in the October 2016 death of a Thief River Falls boy who was killed while attempting to get onto his school bus.

Brenda Fellman is seeking in excess of $50,000 each from Joanne Joyce Schultz, Wayne Schultz and Independent School District 564. She also seeks the costs of the lawsuit and other relief deemed appropriate by the court. Fellman claims the parties acted negligently, resulting in the death of her 7-year-old son, Anthony Ray Fellman.

Brenda Fellman filed the lawsuit as the trustee for the heirs and next of kin. Other next of kin are listed as the boy’s father, two brothers, paternal grandparents and maternal grandmother.

In court filings, attorneys for the school district and the Schultzes allege that the boy’s negligence led to his death. They also allege that the accident occurred as a result of the actions of third parties.

In a court filing, the Schultzes’ attorney referred to the situation as an unavoidable accident. She noted the boy’s fault exceeded those of any of the defendants.

The lawsuit was filed in August. A scheduling conference has been set for Thursday, Sept. 27.

Superintendent Brad Bergstrom declined comment.

Anthony Fellman died Oct. 6, 2016, as he was crossing Highway 59 to get onto his school bus. As part of its final report, the Minnesota State Patrol determined that he ran behind the school bus and in front of a 2005 Town & Country driven by Joanne Schultz. Wayne Schultz is listed as the owner of the van.

Joanne Schultz told an investigator that she didn’t see Fellman until after he had been struck. A school bus video showed Fellman running behind the bus. It also showed that bus driver Deborah Dahlen had activated the amber lights on the bus. She hadn’t yet stopped the bus at the time of the crash.

No criminal charges were filed against Joanne Schultz. State Patrol reports indicated she was traveling 38.3 to 48.8 mph in the 60-mph zone. The accident occurred a little more than half an hour before sunrise that day.
Dahlen told the State Patrol that she had slowed down outside of the Fellman home at 10193 Hwy. 59 N.E. She didn’t see the three Fellman brothers, but she turned around after the kids at the next stop asked why she hadn’t stopped at the Fellman residence.

Fellman’s older brothers said they were waiting on the opposite side of the highway from their home, when the northbound Dahlen drove by them. The oldest brother said he chased after the bus to no avail. Dahlen returned, traveling southbound this time. However, the brothers remained on the opposite side of the highway. Dahlen slowed down near their driveway. The video then showed Fellman running behind the bus.