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Illinois State Police Begin Megabus Crash Investigation

By Chuck Sudo in News on Aug 3, 2012 9:30PM

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Illinois State Police said the investigation into Thursday’s crash of a Megabus from St. Louis in downstate Litchfield that killed one passenger could take weeks to complete. So far, they don’t suspect driver error and believe a blown tire was the cause of the accident.

The bus, which crashed into an overpass pillar on I-55, recently passed a routine maintenance inspection, according to a release from Megabus, and that inspections are performed every 10 days. State Police reached out to the National Transportation Safety Board, who declined to participate in the investigation at this time. NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said the agency is “monitoring” the investigation.

The bus was carrying 70 passengers at the time of the crash. The passenger that was killed, Aditi R. Avhad, was a dentist from Mumbai, India pursuing a master’s degree in health administration at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. Forty-seven passengers were injured in the crash. Megan Arns of St. Charles, Mo. described the scene as “panic, then calm” as passengers began helping each other after the crash.

The investigation’s focus on a blown tire is somewhat good news for Megabus. There have been calls for tougher regulations on low-fare bus carriers in recent years. Records from the Federal motor Carrier Safety Administration show Megabus’ safety record during a two-year period that ended Wednesday did better than the national average. The statement from Megabus listed safety protocols including drivers being required to take nine hours off between scheduled routes and extensive training in classroom and behind-the-wheel settings.

“Safety remains our No. 1 priority,” a statement from the company said.