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Duluth News-Tribune (MN)Duluth News-Tribune (MN) - Tuesday, May 21, 1996

Author: Associated Press, Saint Paul Pioneer Press

A 13-year-old boy died Monday after his head hit a bridge when he stuck his head out the top of a moving double-decker bus. It was the second such accident within two weeks.

Brian Garon of Plymouth, Minn., stuck his head through an emergency exit hatch in the top of a charter bus, authorities said.

``It was a real fun afternoon for this group of kids, a tragic end,'' said State Patrol Trooper Michael Hanson. ``There's no superlative to describe how bad this really is.''

The bus was bringing about 60 youth back to a synagogue following an outing Sunday night. The accident happened at the Minnetonka Boulevard bridge over Minnesota Highway 100.

Garon 's family said the accident happened when four boys were playing a game to see how high they could jump out of the hatch. When someone yelled, ``Bridge!'' Garon was the only one who did not duck.

Hanson said he did not have information to confirm that report.

The bus, operated by Lorenz Bus Service of Blaine, Minn., has an escape hatch secured by bolts similar to wing nuts, company president Jim Canine said. ``The driver did his inspection before the bus left and all safety equipment was working as it normally does,'' Canine said.

Hanson said the ``clasps'' must be released before the hatch can be opened and pushed upward.

The bus is 13 feet 5 inches tall, Hanson said. The bridge has a posted clearance of 14 feet, but actually measures 15 feet, which means Garon 's torso was about 14 inches out of the hatch.

A similar accident occurred on a Minneapolis school bus May 8 when a 13-year-old boy stuck his head out a window and it struck a tree. On April 8, another Twin Cities 13-year-old died when she jumped or fell from a moving school bus.

Even though Sunday's accident involved a charter bus, state Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Cathy Clark expected both to be discussed this summer when a school bus safety advisory committee meets.






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