CHICAGO, Ill. – A shuttle bus transporting passengers to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport drove into a concrete divider Friday morning, pinning the driver inside and injuring 15 passengers.
The bus had just picked up passengers from a nearby parking lot around 6:30 a.m. and was transporting them to the departing flight concourse when it struck the concrete lane barrier separating the lanes for arriving and departing flights. The bus also struck a guardrail, which ripped into the bus about five feet, nearly sheering it in half.
A Chicago fireman who was on his way to the airport that morning and saw the shuttle bus crash pulled over to help. He found passengers stumbling and dazed. “A lot of blood, a lot of what seemed like broken bones,” firefighter Robert Gambala told the Chicago Tribune.
Rory Williams, another airport firefighter who was right behind the bus when it veered off the road, also stopped to help. WLS Chicago reported that Mr. Williams hammered out a bus window and pulled the pinned driver from the wreckage with the help of another airport employee who had stopped. Mr. Williams was injured in the process of helping passengers and had to be treated later for a back injury.
Chicago Fire Department officials said that four of the passengers were in serious-to-critical condition; five were in fair-to-serious condition; and four were in good condition, including Mr. Williams. Two other injured passengers refused treatment. None of the injuries are believed to be life-threatening, officials said.
The driver told authorities who began investigating the crash that another motorist had cut her off, causing her to drive into the barrier, but the Chicago Tribune reported that video surveillance did not support her version of events.
The driver works for a private bus company contracted by O’Hare to transport passengers from remote parking lots around the airport to the terminal. She was cited for failing to stay in her lane and fined.
The crash created major traffic backups on I-190. The delays prompted many people stuck in other shuttles and cabs to get out and walk to the terminal with their luggage, which created even more traffic problems.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.