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Megabus crash on I-55 near Litchfield, Illinois

11:32 AM, Aug 3, 2012   |    comments
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Litchfield, IL (KSDK) - A double-decker Megabus crashed near Litchfield, Illinois, closing Interstate 55 at mile-marker 57.  A female passenger died in the accident. 

As of Friday morning, SLU Hospital confirm they are still treating one patient. This is a 24-year-old male with multiple fractures. He is in serious condition. No other information is being released.

Also early Friday, officials at St. Louis Childrens Hospital confirm that two children were transported to their facility and were admitted.  No other details were provided on the extent of their injuries.

Memorial Medical Center in Springfield tells us they received six injured passengers; two were treated and released, and four others were admitted with moderate to serious injuries from the accident.

The Megabus struck a concrete pillar supporting an overpass Thursday afternoon.  The bus was traveling from Chicago to Kansas City, with stops in Springfield, Illniois, St. Louis and Columbia, Missouri.

Illinois State Police confirmed a woman seated above the driver on the second floor of the bus was killed.

The deceased passenger has been identified as 25-year-old Aditi Avhad of India.  She was on her way to Columbia, Missouri.  Avhad attended the University of Missouri. Avhad's parents were on the bus with her.

Megabus postponed another bus' trip from St. Louis to Chicago after the crash, because I-55 was closed in both directions.  The double-decker Megabus would not be able to make the trip on highways due to the shorter heights on overpasses.

St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield, Illinois received 22 patients from the crash.  They are said to have non-life threatening injuries.  Some people suffered broken bones and have since been discharged.

Twenty more patients were taken to the community center in Litchfield. 

Megabus crash - PHOTOS

Susie Campbell, CEO of Community Memorial Hospital in Staunton, Illinois, said they treated three patients with non-life threatening injuries.

A 24-year-old passenger was airlifted to Saint Louis University Hospital.  He suffered several broken bones and was taken into surgery immediately.

Another passenger was airlifted to Barnes Jewish Hospital.  That person is listed in critical condition.  A spokesperson for the hospital says they are expecting one more patient transported by ground from a hospital in Litchfield.

A passenger claims the bus driver lost control of the vehicle after a tire blew.

Trooper Doug Francis with Illinois State Police said the accident happened at 1:22 p.m.  He said 30 ambulances, 10 helicopters, and seven fire departments responded to the accident, and that 64 people were onboard.

Francis says the number of people injuries, and the extent of the injuries is unknown at this time.

A lane of Interstate 55 reopened in both directions at around 5 p.m.  The interstate was completed opened to traffic an hour later.

Litchfield is about 55 miles northeast of St. Louis.

Megabus issued the following updated statement Friday afternoon:

"At approximately 1:20 p.m. today (Aug. 2, 2012) a megabus.com bus struck a pillar on southbound Interstate 55 at mile marker 57, just north of Litchfield, Illinois.

"The bus was an 8:45 a.m. (Cenral) departure traveling along the Chicago - St. Louis - Columbia - Kansas City route with more than 70 passengers on board.

"Illinois State Police have confirmed there has been one fatality, with several passengers injured, some seriously. The driver of the coach has been taken to hospital for surgery, but his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

"The Montgomery County Coroner Rick Broaddus identified the one fatality as Aditi R Avhad, 25. Avhad's parents were also aboard the bus.

"Uninjured passengers were taken to the Litchfield Community Center and arrangements have been made to get them to their final destinations.

"The thoughts and prayers of our entire staff go out to everyone involved, particularly the family of the person who has died.

"Megabus.com is working with law enforcement authorities to investigate the cause.

"Safety remains our number one priority. We can confirm that the vehicle involved in the accident was manufactured in 2011 and had passed a full preventative maintenance check within the past week.

"Illinois State Police have advised family members to contact ISP District 18 Headquarters at (217) 324-4900, Ext 0.

"Megabus.com will continue to provide more details as they become available."

The statement goes on to say the fleet of Megabus vehicles features three-point seatbelts.  Megabus drivers are required to have at least 105 hours of classroom and behind-the-wheel training before driving one the coaches in service, and they are given nine hours off between scheduled driving duties.

Megabus.com is a subsidiary of Paramus, N.J.-based Coach USA, which itself is a subsidiary of UK-based Stagecoach Group.  At present, Megabus.com operates out of hubs in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C. and Toronto.

It was two-and-a-half months ago a school bus crashed in the southbound lanes of I-55 near Litchfield.

Ten students from Grantfork Elementary in the Highland School District were injured.

They were on their way back from a field trip to the Illinois State Capitol May 14 when their bus rear-ended a semi in a construction zone.

Three of the students were air-lifted to St. Louis for broken bones and other injuries. All recovered.

The driver of that bus was ticketed for failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident.

NewsChannel 5 has a crew on the way to the scene and will have more information when it becomes available.

KSDK

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