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Bus for MSUM men's basketball team rear-ends vehicle en route to conference opener

STUTSMAN COUNTY, N.D. — The bus for the Minnesota State University Moorhead men's basketball team was involved in a crash Friday, Dec. 1, en route to the team's first conference game at University of Mary in Bismarck.

North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper Benjamin Kennelly said the bus rear-ended a Buick minivan about 2:30 p.m. on Interstate 94, about 30 miles west of Jamestown.

No players were injured, Kennelly said, but the minivan driver, 34-year-old Joell Hill, of Fargo, and three passengers — ages 5, 9, and 18 months — received minor injuries. All four were taken to Jamestown Regional Medical Center for treatment.

"Our thoughts go out to everybody that was involved," said MSUM athletic director Doug Peters.

Kennelly said the bus was traveling behind Hill's minivan in the left lane of the interstate and another vehicle in the right lane was stopped "due to the driver having a medical issue."

A semi swerved into the left lane to avoid the stopped vehicle, causing Hill to brake for the semi ahead, and then the bus hit the rear of Hill's minivan, which was totaled in the crash, according to the patrol.

Men's coach Chad Walthall said it was "a bit nerve-racking" and as a father he was concerned to hear children were hurt in the crash. "Thank God that they're all going to be OK," Walthall said.

The MSUM women's basketball team was travelling behind the men's team and picked up the players to bring them to Bismarck for the game. Walthall said the players are "resilient" and it didn't cause any scheduling problems for the team's game at 8 p.m.

The crash remains under investigation, and charges are pending for Hill and bus driver Robert Philpott, 70, of Moorhead, the patrol said.

Kim Hyatt

Kim Hyatt is a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and a 2014 graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth. She started her newspaper career at the Owatonna People’s Press covering arts and education. In 2016, she received Minnesota Newspaper Association's Dave Pyle New Journalist Award and later that year she joined The Forum newsroom.

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