INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Two bus passengers remain in the hospital, doctors have released eight after their bus was ripped open by a passing tractor-trailer on westbound Interstate 70 on Monday morning.
A flat tire forced that charter bus from St. Louis onto the shoulder before the crash. People living in Blue Springs near the Adams Dairy Parkway exit heard the crash.
“It sounded like lightning struck right outside our apartment, and then it shook everyone,” said witness Taylor Shockhouse.
All 10 passengers aboard the bus were from the St. Louis area, and emergency workers rushed them to Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence. As of Monday night, the Missouri State Highway Patrol says that one person is in critical condition, and another in serious condition. The others were treated for minor injuries.
Centerpoint started preparing for the worst, setting up a mass casualty command center.
“We are lucky that these patients weren’t hurt worse. These kind of situations there are unrestrained passengers that get thrown around and you can have a plethora of injuries,” said Dr. Jay Pemberton, Asst. Medical Director for Centerpoint Medical Center.
Seven passengers and the bus driver had just bruises and strains and were released just after 5 p.m. One passenger was critically injured, another required surgery for serious injuries.
The head of Vince and Associates, an Overland Park medical research facility, said the bus was full of participants in one of its studies. They made arrangements for the patients who were released to head back to St. Louis on Monday night.
Witnesses told FOX 4 that they helped pull people from the charter bus, many of them bleeding on their arms and faces. Investigators say the tractor-trailer driver told them he was reaching for water when he sideswiped the bus.
“As they were stopped on the shoulder a tractor-trailer traveled off the roadway and struck the rear of the bus and went all the way down the driver side,” said Lieutenant Collin Stosberg.
“I saw a lot of people stumbling around, they were in shock, they didn’t really know what to do,” said Shockhouse. "One guy got glass in his eyes from the accident and we helped him rinse that out."
The tractor-trailer driver was cited for careless and imprudent driving according to the highway patrol.
FOX 4 checked through the trucking company’s safety record to determine whether it had a history of problems. Overall, Rush Trucking has high safety marks according to federal safety data. The company is based out of Wayne, Michigan, and has a better than average safety record according to the Department of Transportation.
During the last two years, Rush was involved in 55 crashes, but keep in mind that the company has 642 trucks and logged more than 63 million miles in 2015. Plus, trucking companies have to report accidents, even if it wasn't the party at fault.
Rush also accrued 23 unsafe driving violations last year, which ranged from speeding to texting while driving, to not wearing a seat belt.
In the last two years the company has been involved in two other accidents. One was last November in St. Louis where no injuries reported. The other crash was in June in Columbia that was a chain reaction crash involving multiple semis. Five injuries were reported. The federal database does not show who was at fault for either accident.