Litchfield, Ill. — A packed double-decker Megabus slammed into an Illinois interstate bridge support pillar Thursday, hurtling screaming passengers from their seats and leaving at least one person dead and more than three dozen injured, officials said.
University of Missouri student Aditi Avhad of Mumbai, India, was killed in the Thursday afternoon crash near Litchfield, about 55 miles northeast of St. Louis.
Francis said 38 people were taken to hospitals for injuries from the crash, which left the bus sitting with its crumpled front end smashed up against the bridge support. Rescue crews climbed ladders to reach those trapped inside, while others tended to injuries along the side of Interstate 55.
“There was a lot of screaming and crying,” said 16-year-old passenger Baysha Collins, of Minneapolis, who was traveling to St. Louis to visit relatives. “There was blood everywhere. I was just in shock.”
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 left from Chicago and was to stop in St. Louis and Columbia, Mo., before arriving in Kansas City.
“We don’t know what happened,” Francis said. “Somebody reported to us it was a blown tire, but we haven’t confirmed that yet.”
The trooper said 33 people were taken by ambulance to hospitals, two were flown by helicopter to St. Louis hospitals and three were flown by helicopter to a hospital in Springfield, Ill. He did not know their conditions.
Memorial Medical Center spokesman Michael Leathers said late Thursday that seven people were being treated at the hospital, but he declined to reveal their conditions.
Paula Endress, spokeswoman for St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield, said 22 people were brought to the hospital for treatment, with two of them admitted due to bone fractures. She said none of the injuries were life-threatening.
In St. Louis, Barnes Jewish Hospital spokeswoman Liz Kalicak said two patients, one in serious, the other in fair condition, were being treated. A 24-year-old man was being treated for multiple fractures at Saint Louis University Hospital. The hospital spokeswoman would not release his condition.