Stolen car slams into bus transporting BW students

No injuries were reported after a stolen Kia Forte crashed into a bus taking BW students to a swim meet on I-480.


On Jan. 28, while travelling on I-480, a stolen Kia Forte collided into a bus filled with members of the BW swim and dive team en route to their swim meet at Notre Dame College in South Euclid.   

The occupants of the stolen car were a 15-year-old Olmsted Falls female and a 16-year-old Cleveland male. Reports say that the female was trying to escape her pretrial home detention when she contacted the male who picked her up in the stolen car.   

According to Laura Wolff-Demaline, head coach of the swim and dive team who was driving behind the bus at the time of the accident, the stolen car was swerving in and out of traffic before spiraling out of control and sliding in between her car and the bus. The Kia then drove into the guardrail before colliding with the bus.   

“The two individuals – when their car came to a stop – they got out of their car and started running down the highway,” Wolff-Demaline said. “We saw the passenger and the driver jump over the median and start to run up the hill.”  

After the individuals attempted to flee, a North Olmsted officer and a Fairview Park officer began pursuing them with the help of the bus driver, Wolff-Demaline said, while she made sure everyone on the bus was alright.  

Mason Kooyman, a junior sport management major and member of the swim and dive team who was on the bus at the time of the collision, said that students became immediately aware of what was happening after feeling the impact of the crash.  

“It pretty much just felt like a tire popped, and then all you hear is that screeching noise, and then you hear the car slam,” Kooyman said.   

Kooyman said that the students on the bus immediately pulled out their phones to document what had happened. Kooyman said this allowed news of the collision to spread swiftly after the incident occurred, and that students were quick to speak with their family and friends and let them know they were safe.   

“Everybody got up and started taking pictures and videos like it was a freak accident, I don’t know,” Kooyman said. “I would say after the initial event occurred, and we knew what happened, … [the team] didn’t know how to feel.”  

While another bus was eventually brought out to take the swimmers to Notre Dame, the team was stuck on the highway for a decent amount of time Wolff-Demaline said.   

“We were on the side of the road for a little over an hour,” Wolff-Demaline said. “Then they moved the bus off the highway so the state troopers could interview the swimmers.”  

The crash had delayed the swimmers’ arrival to the meet, causing them to show up at Notre Dame two hours behind schedule and significantly reduce their warm-up before competing. Despite this, the team still did a “great” job at the meet, said Wolff-Demaline, adding that she was proud of the swimmers for competing after a “less than optimal” warm-up.  

Wolff-Demaline also commended the bus driver, Seville Barnes, for his quick response and helpfulness when it came to helping the police locate the drivers of the Kia.  

“Our bus driver did an incredible job because this all happened behind him, there was no way he could’ve anticipated what happened, and he handled the situation very quickly,” Wolff-Demaline said. “I think it was really impressive that he ran after them with the police, like that’s something that I think showed bravery.”  

Wolf-Demaline also said she is thankful to the school for their support in handling the situation. Wolff-Demaline said that she kept in touch with President Bob Helmer, Vice President of Student Affairs Timeka Rashid and Director of Athletics Steve Thompson throughout the day.   

Kooyman said he appreciated the efforts of their coaching staff for handling the situation effectively and professionally, citing Swim Coach Justin Hill, Swimming Graduate Assistant Brian Regovich and Assistant Swim Coach Dr. Michael Diamond specifically.   

“I feel like they were – from being in a situation like that – they were really prepared, and they came around and talked to all of us individually, made sure we were all calm throughout the process,” Kooyman said. “ … Just being in a hit and run is a very stressful situation for everybody, so I wanted to make sure I gave a shout-out to all of the coaching staff on our team.”  

There were no injuries associated with the crash, and the individuals responsible for the collision were taken into custody soon after the incident occurred.