HIGHLAND, Ill. (AP) — A Greyhound passenger bus crashed into three tractor-trailers parked along a highway exit to a rest area early Wednesday in southern Illinois, killing three people and injuring 14 others, some seriously, state police said.
The bus was traveling westbound along Interstate 70 in Madison County around 1:55 a.m. when it crashed into the three semis, Illinois State Police said, citing an initial investigation.
Four people were taken to the hospital by helicopter and at least 10 others were taken by ambulance, state police said in a news release. Police did not immediately release details about those who were injured and killed.
No one in the three trucks was injured in the crash near the city of Highland about 25 miles east of St. Louis, police said.
State Police spokesperson Melaney Arnold said those killed and injured were all on the Greyhound bus. She was not sure if the bus driver was among those killed or injured or if all of those involved were passengers.
The crash closed westbound traffic on I-70.
Photos and TV footage show the side of the bus peeled open, the roof crumpled. A second tractor-trailer appears to have made contact with the right rear of the bus while a third tractor-trailer appears to have crashed into the rear of that second semi.
Passenger Edward Alexander of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he helped a pregnant woman get off the bus and was searching for his phone when he “realized smoke was coming in the bus. I was like, ‘forget that phone,’ and went on and jumped out the window.”
Greyhound spokesperson Mike Ogulnick said in an email that the bus was traveling from Indianapolis to St. Louis, where it was scheduled to arrive at about 2:20 a.m. It was carrying about 30 people, including the driver, he said.
“Our primary concern is ensuring we care for our passengers and driver at this time,” Ogulnick said. “We are working closely with local authorities and a relief bus is on the way for passengers.”
Another bus was sent to transport passengers who were not hurt, Ogulnick said.
It is illegal in Illinois for trucks to park on exit ramps. But trucking industry experts say semis often stop there for the night because overnight parking is hard to find at rest stops and other places, such as truck stops.
“And that’s not only dangerous for them but it’s dangerous for the motoring public because they do need their rest and they deserve their rest,” Lewis Pugh of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said at a May hearing before a House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee.