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Pickup driver pleads guilty in Clay County school bus crash

Ticket fines and fees totaled $135.

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Pickup truck with license plates from North Dakota being pulled out of the ditch on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021. C.S. Hagen / The Forum

MOORHEAD, Minn. — The driver of a pickup truck that collided with a school bus in rural Clay County in October has pleaded guilty to a petty misdemeanor charge of failure to yield for a yield sign, according to online court records.

According to the online court information, Joel Shipley, 30, of Fargo, was to pay a total of $135 in fines and fees.

The crash that occurred the morning of Oct. 14 sent four students from the Ada-Borup-West School District to the hospital.

Shipley was driving a pickup truck northbound on 40th Street North, which was controlled by a yield sign, when the pickup collided with a school bus that was eastbound on 190th Avenue North, Clay County Sheriff Mark Empting said in a statement following the crash.

Four students who were passengers on the bus were taken to the hospital following the crash, as was Shipley, according to Empting, who said a few days after the crash that all of the children who were taken to the hospital had been released and were recovering.

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Empting said shortly after the crash that Shipley was taken to the hospital with significant but not life-threatening. On Thursday, Nov. 18, he did not have information regarding Shipley's current condition.

One of several reports generated by the Clay County Sheriff's Office in the wake of the crash indicated that first responders on the scene used mechanical Jaws of Life to free Shipley from the wreckage of the pickup truck.

Another report stated that the driver of the bus, Todd Kappes, told investigators that he did not remember seeing any vehicles approaching the intersection prior to the crash, including the pickup.

Kappes estimated his speed at the time of the collision at about 45 mph, the report said.

According to the report, Kappes told a deputy that after the collision he went up and down the aisle of the bus to check on the kids and though many were crying, all of them were conscious following the collision.

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