A Chicago bus crash has taken the lives of four people and injured at least four more, after a car collided with a city bus in the early hours of Sunday, May 7. All four of the deceased were in the car that hit the bus, while the injured were on a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus. Investigators are now looking into what caused the tragedy, including reviewing any surveillance video on the bus. Meanwhile, concerns have been raised in recent years about bus safety across the U.S. and specifically regarding CTA buses in Illinois.
Speed, Alcohol May Have Been Factors in Chicago Bus Crash
According to reports, the accident happened at around 6:15 a.m. on Sunday, May 7, in the 2600 block of West Madison. A Buick LeSabre was traveling west at a high rate of speed when the driver lost control of the vehicle and hit a parked car. The Buick then collided with the CTA bus head-on.
Killed in the crash was the male 27-year-old driver of the Buick, Bernard Chatman, as well as his three female passengers. Chatman and one passenger, a 23-year-old unidentified female, were taken to Stroger Hospital and pronounced dead. The other to passengers, 25-year-old Ashley Moore, and 22-year-old Tycika Fairley, were taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where they were also pronounced dead. Both Fairley and Moore were mothers to young children, and Fairley was reportedly pregnant.
At least three passengers on the bus and the bus driver suffered injuries in the accident and were taken to the hospital though the injuries were not believed to be life-threatening. Two people were taken to a hospital in serious condition while two more were taken to the hospital in good condition.
Officials told reporters alcohol was found in the car.
Witnesses Describe Aftermath of Illinois Bus Accident
Witnesses described trying to help the victims of the Chicago bus crash but being unable to.
“I heard the tire skid and then I heard the impact,” said Jbria Demery. “When I came outside, I just saw a bunch of the neighborhood people trying to open up the doors of the car but they couldn’t get them open. The driver of the car was partially hanging out the window.”
Meanwhile, Malinda Demery described the fire, which prevented witnesses from rescuing anyone in the car.
“My neighbor went over and tried to pull the driver out, but the car was burning so bad and there was so much smoke he had to stop trying, and then the fire department came and did what they did.”
“One of the passengers on the bus was quick on his feet, grabbed the fire extinguisher; he put the fire out,” said Charles Williams. “There were at least 15-20 people out there trying to help but it was a situation you didn’t want to pull anyone out of the car because it was that bad.”
Numerous Collisions Between CTA Buses and Motor Vehicles in Past Five Years
According to an NBC report, there have been 1,058 collisions reported between CTA buses and other motor vehicles in the past five years. Collisions between buses and other passenger vehicles can be deadly, given the size and weight difference between buses and other motor vehicles. Passengers on a bus can also be put at risk of serious injuries if there are not adequate safety measures on buses.
Meanwhile, a 2015 report by ABC suggests that there is an accident involving a CTA bus every 36 hours. Those accidents included a 2014 crash in which a bus crashed into three parked vehicles, incidents in which bus drivers lost consciousness, and an accident in which a bus crashed into a viaduct. Official reports from Chicago suggest around 500 people were injured in CTA bus crashes in 2014.
Those crash statistics involve accidents where other vehicles have been pushed into buses by previous collisions—similar to the most recent fatal Chicago bus crash, but there are also situations in which bus drivers make errors, putting the safety of other motorists and bus passengers at risk.
In such cases, the city has reportedly had to pay millions of dollars. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that in 2015-2016 there were five people killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes involving CTA buses. In all, the city wound up paying around $16 million to resolve lawsuits in which the CTA was liable. One wrongful death lawsuit involves a 2015 accident in which a bus ran a red light, killing a pedestrian. Chicago Transit Authority admitted liability in that accident.
The same report found that between 2015 and 2016 more than 40 bus drivers lost their job either entirely due to or partially due to a collision they were involved in.
Bus Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus crash, contact Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman to discuss your options. Our attorneys are experienced at handling complex bus accident litigation and are available to answer your questions.