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.
Illinois State Police Trooper Doug Francis said the passenger who died was female, but he would not disclose her name or age. He did not know where she was seated on the bus, which was traveling between Chicago and Kansas City.
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 its trauma center in Springfield treated six patients, but he didn't know their conditions. Brian Reardon, a spokesman for St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield, said that hospital treated more than 20 patients, including some who were treated and released. Reardon said others had moderate injuries, "such as bone fractures."