A 25-year-old woman was killed after a packed double-decker Megabus blew a tyre and slammed head-on into a concrete bridge support pillar on an Illinois interstate yesterday.
Aditi Avhad, a graduate student at University of Missouri in Columbia, was sitting above the driver on the second floor at the time of the crash.
Ms Avhad had studied as a dental surgeon at the Nair Hospital and Dental College in Mumbai, India, graduating in 2009, and had worked in two dentistry positions before relocating to Missouri.
At university in Columbia, Ms Avhad appears to have combined her studies with work at MedZou, a student-operated medical clinic providing free primary healthcare.
Another 48 of the bus’ passengers were hospitalised after the discount charter bus crashed mid-afternoon in Litchfield while travelling from Chicago to Kansas City.
Thirty ambulances and 10 medical helicopters were sent to deal with ‘several critically injured’ passengers of the 81 on board. Some suffered broken bones.
TV footage showed emergency vehicles surrounding the bus and rescue crews climbing ladders to reach inside its crumpled front end.
Some passengers could be seen being tended to along the side of Interstate 55, which was shut down in both directions.
One passenger Megan, who made it off the bus with just cuts above her right eye and ear, said she was on the top level of the bus when she felt the tyre blow and then swerve off the highway.
‘Having conversations with people and then you see them on the ground, not conscious,’ she said.
‘People closer to the front of the bus, at least on the top tier, fell out of their seats. Some people fell onto the ground.
‘I’m not sure if people actually flew through the windows but I know that there were people trapped on the bus.
‘We were on the accident sight for possibly an hour… there were people still trapped on the bus after an hour.’
MegaBus spokeswoman Amanda Byers said the bus was at full capacity when it crashed near Litchfield, about 55 miles northeast of St. Louis. It also was to stop in St. Louis and Columbia, Mo.
About 36 passengers from the bus were taken on two school buses from the crash site to the community centre in Litchfield. said Janis Johns, transportation director of Litchfield Community Unit School District 12.