Litchfield, Ill. A packed double-decker Megabus blew a tire and slammed head-on into a concrete bridge support pillar on an Illinois interstate Thursday, officials said. A state trooper said at least one person has died in the accident, which has injured at least two dozen.
Illinois State Police Trooper Doug Francis said he could not confirm any deaths or the number of injuries about two hours after the crash of the discount charter bus, which was traveling from Chicago to Kansas City. He said 30 ambulances and 10 medical helicopters were sent to the scene.
"We received a report it had blown a tire which caused it to run off the road," Francis said. "The bus did stay upright."
Television helicopter footage shows numerous emergency vehicles surrounding the bus and rescue crews climbing ladders to reach inside its crumpled front end. Some passengers could be seen being tended to along the side of Interstate 55, which was shut down in both directions.
MegaBus spokeswoman Amanda Byers said the bus was at full capacity, carrying 81 passengers, when it crashed near Litchfield, about 55 miles northeast of St. Louis. It also was to stop in St. Louis and Columbia, Mo.
About 36 passengers from the bus were taken on two school buses from the crash site to the community center in Litchfield, said Janis Johns, transportation director of Litchfield Community Unit School District 12.
The passengers were either uninjured or mildly injured and included some children, Johns said. One woman was brought on a stretcher in the school bus.
The school district sent a third school bus to the crash site, but it wasn't needed, Johns said.
"We're close to the highway. We try to help out when we can," Johns said.
The Red Cross will be notified and coolers of water will be provided, she said.
"It was very warm out there," she said, and some crash survivors were overheated.