A passenger bus carrying almost three dozen passengers was involved in an accident last week on I-55, the Stevenson Expressway in the Chicago area. The bus was a PACE bus, one of the vehicles that provides bus service to the suburban Chicago area and connects a variety of communities. The accident injured three passengers, though their injuries were described as minor by state police.
The PACE bus was driving on the shoulder of Interstate 55 at 7:30 in the morning under the guidelines of a special program that allows the high-occupancy vehicle to utilize the shoulder during rush hour. The shoulder program is also intended to increase ridership on the popular public busses. The accident took place when another vehicle which was also reported to be a bus attempted to enter the shoulder from the traffic lane. On doing so they hit the PACE bus near its front door, preventing the passengers from being able to exit. Another vehicle is also said to have been involved in the accident, though details are not clear as to the third vehicle’s involvement.
Emergency teams were required to remove the door of the bus in order to extricate the passengers. Three on board were taken off of the Pace bus on stretchers and were taken to nearby MacNeal Hospital for treatment of minor injuries. The rest of the passengers awaited transfer onto the next scheduled Pace bus. The scene of the accident was quickly cleared.
Pace buses have been involved in a number of crashes over the last several months, including an accident in March that killed a passenger. In that incident the driver of the Pace bus had swerved to avoid hitting a pedestrian and the bus hit a light pole. The crash killed a 58-year old passenger. Almost a year to the day before the I-55 accident a Pace bus and a car were involved in a crash that injured sixteen passengers. In that incident none of the injuries were life threatening.
Pace buses carry thousands of passengers every day in the Chicago area.
The driver of a regional public transit bus that was involved in an accident in late October will not be charged in the incident according to a statement released by the 9th Judicial District attorney’s office. The driver, Jaime Nunez, works for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA), and he was driving the bus on Highway 82 when he encountered a slow-moving tractor trailer and the accident ensued. Eleven passengers on board the bus were hospitalized as a result of the accident.
The tractor trailer driver, Travis Wingfield, is being charged with a Class B traffic offense for not having a slow-moving vehicle emblem displayed on his vehicle. That citation is considered a minor infraction that comes with a monetary fine.
There were twelve people including the driver on board the RFTA bus at the time of the accident, and the driver was the only one among them that did not require hospitalization. According to his statement he came upon the tractor trailer in the early evening and had to swerve to avoid missing it because it was moving so slowly. After cutting left his bus veered briefly into the median and then corrected itself onto the highway, but hit a modular barrier on the side of the road and then rolled onto its side. There were some serious injuries reported but all of the passengers are now home.
According to the report from the state police, the tractor trailer was traveling at a rate of 20 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour zone, and the vehicle’s lights were not properly alerting the traffic around it. The driver of the RFTA bus tested negative for drugs and alcohol and it was determined that he was travelling within the legal speed limit for the area.
The tractor trailer was being driven for a local ranch, and according to Colorado law this type of heavy machinery that is not travelling above 25 miles per hour is required to indicate their status via a slow-moving vehicle emblem. The CEO of the RFTA indicated that had the driver not swerved the accident would have been far worse and that the correct decision was made.
An accident between a CT Transit bus and a New Haven police officer occurred this week. The bus was carrying dozens of passengers, including children, and many of them were taken to the hospital following the incident. The police officer was also injured and taken to the hospital, though a police spokesman indicated that the injuries the officer suffered were not considered life threatening.
The accident took place in the morning on a popular street dotted with churches and the local library. The bus involved in the crash was a double-length articulated vehicle. There were no fatalities, and of the 22 adults and four children who were on board at the time of the accident, four decided against being treated at the hospital.
Passengers remarked on the shock of suddenly being thrown through the air, and described the panic that followed the crash.
“Everybody was falling all over the place at the same time, kicking out the windows so the bus didn’t catch on fire and trying to get off the bus as fast as they can,” said Gregory Andrews, a passenger at the time of the crash.
A spokesman for the New Haven police department indicated that the police officer, identified as Victor Herrera, was on duty and was headed to Union Station, responding to a police call of a reported fight. Witnesses to the accident said that more than one police car was seen rushing down Elm Street, and that Herrera’s car was the second one heading down the street when it collided with the CT Transit bus, which was crossing on Temple Street.
The officer was said to have tried to turn his vehicle to avoid the accident but was not able to. His cruiser ended up at rest on a corner after having collided with a stone post. At this point the accident is still under investigation and no determination has been made as to who was at fault.
Response to the accident was immediate, with more than a dozen ambulances arriving and removing passengers on stretchers. The police vehicle involved was badly damaged and the bus had a broken front windshield. A number of bicycles had been being transported on its front rack and were also damaged, as was the light pole that the bus struck.
A 77-year old school bus driver who was involved in a two-bus crash earlier this week is reported to have been in two previous school bus accidents since February of 2012. The most recent accident sent 21 students to the hospital, and many are wondering whether it is time for him to find a new occupation.
Richard N. Lee Jr. of Port Allen, Louisiana was driving a First Student school bus loaded with close to 60 students from West Baton Rouge Parish when he rear-ended another school bus. According to State Trooper First Class Jared Sandifer, Lee crashed into the back of the other bus and was given a ticket for careless operation of a vehicle. The other driver, Renita Trufant of Baton Rouge, was not charged in the accident, in which police say that Lee was travelling approximately 45 miles per hour when he slammed into the bus ahead of him, which had its warning lights on and was stopped in front of a student’s home.
The students on Lee’s bus were both elementary school and middle school age, and were from Chamberlain Elementary and Devall Middle School. Though there were no serious injuries, twenty-one students were taken to nearby hospitals following the crash before being released.
The accident shut down North River Road, where the accident took place, and parents were sent scrambling in search of their children. The principal of the elementary school said that though two of the children had to be airlifted from the scene, it was because of a lack of ground transportation rather than because of any serious injury.
Sandifer says that Lee had been in two previous bus accidents, and that an investigation into his driving history will be requested of the Department of Motor Vehicles. In the first accident, which took place early in 2012, he sideswiped a car travelling in the opposite direction while going around a curve. In the second accident he rear-ended a passenger car and forced it to collide with a vehicle in front of it. No students were on board his bus at the time of the previous crashes.
Disciplinary action against drivers is handled by the bus company, First Student, but the Division of Motor Vehicles could independently revoke his driver’s license due to the fact that he has caused three accidents in less than two years.