What began as a routine interstate bus trip ended in disaster yesterday for dozens of passengers. A Megabus which left Chicago bound for Kansas City slammed into a concrete bridge support which stood next to Interstate 55.
Shortly after 1:15pm, the double-decker Megabus was southbound on I-55 near the Montgomery County city of Litchfield, which is about 40 miles south of Springfield. According to passengers the bus left the roadway and began driving through the center median before crashing into the bridge support. It took two hours to extricate the driver and four passengers. Six passengers had to be airlifted by helicopter to nearby hospitals in serious condition, and at least half of the passengers sustained injuries of some type. One 25-year old woman, a native of India who was pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Missouri, died after being extricated from the scene of the Chicago Megabus accident.
Right now, authorities believe that the bus accident was caused by a blown right rear tire, which sent the bus sliding out of control. The bus was reportedly packed with passengers, but there are conflicting reports as to exactly how many were on the bus. One media outlet reported a total of 81, while the passenger manifest listed only 64 passengers.
Even if it is determined that the tire separation was the cause of the Megabus accident, the driver and Megabus will probably still be held responsible for the passenger injuries and the death of the grad student. That’s because by law, drivers are responsible for maintaining the safety of their vehicles (including adequate tire pressure), and bus companies are responsible for the actions of their drivers. This holds true even if it can be proven that the tires were sufficiently inflated.
As a result, the passengers may choose to file personal injury lawsuits against Megabus and its driver. And the relatives of the Missouri student, even if they live in India, still have standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit as well.