1 passenger dead in Illinois bus crash; 38 hospitalized


by BELO affiliate KMOV.com


Posted on August 2, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 2 at 10:46 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- Police say one is dead and more than 2 dozen are injured after a double-decker Megabus containing 81 passengers slammed into a concrete pillar in Montgomery County, Illinois on Thursday.

Passengers said the bus blew out a tire and slammed into a concrete pillar supporting an overpass on southbound Interstate 55 at mile marker 57, located just north of Litchfield.

Authorities said at least 18 ambulance and six helicopters responded to the scene and took victims to the hospital.

Trooper Doug Francis says 38 people were taken to hospitals for injuries. Of those, 33 were taken by ambulance to nearby hospitals, two were flown by helicopter to St. Louis hospitals and three were flown by helicopter to a hospital in Springfield.

Sue Campbell with Memorial Hospital in Springfield said they were expecting between six and nine patients.  She said three had already arrived, but none of the injuries were considered life-threatening.

Firefighters could be seen putting up at least four ladders to help rescue victims who were trapped on the top level of the bus.

Other emergency crews were setting up a triage in the median of the highway to treat injured passengers.

The victims’ conditions were not immediately clear.

According to officials, 81 passengers were booked to ride the bus, which was on its way to St. Louis from Chicago. It was scheduled to then go to Kansas City.

The Litchfield School District sent three school buses to transport uninjured people back to the community center in Litchfield, which is about five miles away.

The bus suffered extensive damage to the front. Francis says investigators are trying to confirm a report that the bus blew a tire. He says a strong thunderstorm has made crash reconstruction at the site difficult.

The highway reopened Thursday evening. Before that, traffic was backed up for eight miles in each direction.

Police have not released the identity of the female passenger who died in this accident.