LITCHFIELD, Ill. (AP) - One passenger has died after a packed double-decker Megabus traveling from Chicago to Kansas City slammed head-on into a concrete bridge support pillar on an Illinois interstate.
Illinois State Police confirmed a woman seated above the driver on the second floor of the bus was killed.
According to KSDK , our NBC affiliate in St. Louis, ISP identified the victim as Aditi Avhad of Columbia, Mo. University of Missouri officials confirm she was currently an enrolled student.
Trooper Doug Francis said 38 people were taken to hospitals for injuries following the Thursday afternoon crash on Interstate 55 near Litchfield. Of those, 33 were taken by ambulance to nearby hospitals, two were flown by helicopter to St. Louis hospitals and three were flown by helicopter to a hospital in Springfield.
Brian Reardon, a spokesman for St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield, said that hospital has treated more than 20 patients, including some who were treated and released. Reardon said others had moderate injuries, "such as bone fractures."
Francis said investigators are trying to confirm a report that the bus blew a tire. He said a strong thunderstorm has made crash reconstruction at the site difficult.
The highway reopened Thursday evening. Before that, traffic was backed up for eight miles in each direction.
Officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say they've been notified of the crash and will work with local authorities.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Megabus vehicles have been involved in six accidents over the past two years. Thursday's wreck makes seven.
Television helicopter footage showed numerous emergency vehicles surrounding the bus and rescue crews climbing ladders to reach inside its smashed front end. Some passengers were being tended to along the side of Interstate 55.
MegaBus spokeswoman Amanda Byers said the bus was at full capacity, carrying 81 passengers when it crashed near Litchfield, about 55 miles northeast of St. Louis. The bus also was to stop in St. Louis and Columbia, Mo.
One passenger KSDK interviewed said that several others were still trapped on the bus an hour after the crash.
The Megabus pick-up and drop-off location in Kansas City is at 2nd and Grand in the River Market. It was scheduled to arrive at 7:30 p.m.
Megabus officials released a statement after the crash.
"Megabus.com is working with law enforcement authorities to investigate the cause. Safety remains our number one priority. The thoughts and prayers of our entire staff go out to the passengers involved," it said.
According to the company, the bus was manufactured last year and had passed a full preventative maintenance check within the past week.
Illinois State Police have advised family members of any passengers who were on the bus to contact ISP District 18 Headquarters at (217) 324-4900, Ext 0.
Stay with KSHB.com for updates.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.