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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

East Valley bus driver who was hit in November crash says he now faces much more serious injuries

Blackhawk Delgado holds a photo of the bus crash he survived, but is now suffering severe medical complications from the accident. He is joined for a photo by his daughter Adreanna Uttke, left, and wife Kelli Delgado on Friday in Spokane. Delgado was severely injured when a driver crashed a stolen BMW into the school bus he was driving in November.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Blackhawk Delgado holds a photo of the bus crash he survived, but is now suffering severe medical complications from the accident. He is joined for a photo by his daughter Adreanna Uttke, left, and wife Kelli Delgado on Friday in Spokane. Delgado was severely injured when a driver crashed a stolen BMW into the school bus he was driving in November. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

Blackhawk Delgado worked for decades taking kids to and from school. That changed in November, when a man in a stolen car allegedly crashed into Delgado’s bus, tipping it and injuring Delgado inside.

At the time of the crash, Delgado was told his injuries were minor, which seemed miraculous. He was cleared to go back to work after a week, despite having suffered a crash so intense it tipped the bus on its side and totaled the car that hit it, a BMW.

“I was OK, but not 100%. And they told us it was all because of the wreck and that was expected. So, you know, we took their word for it,” Delgado said in an interview.

Delgado and his wife fell back into a somewhat normal routine again. Thanksgiving passed, then the district’s holiday break approached in mid-December.

The man police suspected of stealing and then crashing the BMW, Jeffrey Schelin, is being held in Spokane County Jail on a $45,000 bond. He faces multiple criminal charges, including reckless driving and possessing a stolen vehicle.

The night of Dec. 19, Delgado and his wife, Kelli Krueger-Delgado, were getting ready for bed when Delgado felt his upper arm go numb.

He didn’t think much of it. They went to bed, he said.

That night, Krueger-Delgado awoke to her husband convulsing in the bed beside her. She called an ambulance, at first thinking he was having a stroke.

“When I called them, I actually told them I thought he was dying,” Krueger-Delgado said. “And we got there and they said that he had been bleeding in his brain, pretty much since the wreck, because there was old blood and new blood.”

They didn’t know how long it would take to heal, Delgado said.

Doctors told them Delgado’s brain needed rest. That meant nearly no television, computer use, reading or puzzles. It also meant Delgado could not return to work.

Since then, Delgado said he’s had memory problems that weren’t there before the crash. He is slower to respond than usual and not as active as before, he said.

“As a family, we’ve dealt with a lot because he’s our main source of income and you’re kind of living with a little bit different person than we’ve been living with for all these years,” Krueger-Delgado said. “Obviously the staff is affected at school. We’re very active in our church, and he’s unable to participate in church right now. So it’s impacted him quite a bit physically. And I’m not sure if he’ll go back to work.”

Costs have become another point of concern. Krueger-Delgado said she was told the state’s labor department could cover most medical costs and part of Delgado’s salary, but that’s not a guarantee yet.

“And our family’s at risk of losing health insurance because he’s not working,” Krueger-Delgado said.

Krueger-Delgado said the doctors have said the brain bleed is small, but that hardly makes them feel better when Delgado endures more convulsions. The emotional and financial stress seem to be mounting, she said.

Krueger-Delgado said she would also like to see her husband’s injuries factor into the charges Schelin faces.

“We don’t know if he’s going to be permanently disabled from this now,” Krueger-Delgado said. “It’s certainly a frustrating, scary time right now.”

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