The parents of a University of Missouri graduate student killed in a downstate Megabus crash in August filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Chicago against the bus company.
The victim was a 25-year-old graduate student who was sitting at the front of the double-decker bus when it crashed on August 2nd.
A State police report confirmed that a blown tire led to the fatal Megabus crash downstate. The bus, headed from Chicago to Missouri, crashed near Litchfield after the front left tire blew and the driver lost control, veering off Interstate 55 into a median, crashing head-on into a concrete overpass pillar.
Although a young woman died, the bus driver is credited with saving the lives of the other passengers on the bus.
The bus driver had just been hired in July and was still in training. He told the reporter that as soon as he heard the tire pop, he tightened his grip on the steering wheel, took his foot off the gas and knew not to brake to keep the bus from rolling over.
Since the accident, the bus driver has undergone three surgeries and faces at least two more for his injuries, but despite this, he states that he is looking forward to going back to work.
Police said that the investigation could take weeks to complete, but that driver error appears not to have contributed to the company’s second fatal crash since 2010. A police spokesman said investigators had not determined yet whether the triple-digit heat at the time of the crash might have contributed to the blowout, nor the approximate speed at which the bus hit the pillar.
The State police are in charge of the investigation after the National Transportation Safety Board chose not to take a lead role.
The victim’s parents were traveling with her on the bus, the lawsuit said. The family originated from Mumbai, India. They were returning to Columbia, Missouri after a weeklong trip to the Chicago area, when the crash occurred. Their daughter had only been studying in the U.S. for one year at the time of the crash.
The parents of the victim accuse Megabus and Coach Leasing, as well as the bus driver, of failing to properly maintain and inspect the bus, and its tires, among other things.
Trooper Dan Francis said that “several” of the passengers were in critical condition. 33 passengers were taken to either St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield and Memorial Medical Center in Springfield. 5 people were transported by medical helicopter, he said. Francis said that 5 helicopters, 30 ambulances and 7 fire departments responded to the wreck.
The front of the bus was extensively damaged and debris was strewn all over the road. First responders were seen using ladders to gain access inside the bus.
In a statement, Megabus said Friday that the bus that crashed “had passed a full preventative maintenance check, including tires, within the past week. Maintenance checks are performed…approximately every ten days.”
In the past two years, Chicago Megabus has had 7 crashes with at least four injuries and two fatalities. Yet, Megabus maintains a satisfactory rating from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
There were 81 passengers booked for this trip, however, Illinois State Police said that just 64 people were actually on board.
“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,” company spokeswoman Amanda Byers said in a statement.
This fatal accident was the first for the Chicago based company since four passengers were killed in September 2010 when the driver of a double-decker Megabus slammed into a low bridge outside downtown Syracuse, N.Y. The driver was acquitted earlier this year of homicide in the deaths.
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