Updated 01/30/13 – 9:54 a.m.
PARK RIDGE (CBS) – A school bus heading west in the eastbound lanes of Oakton Street, along the border between Park Ridge and Niles, was involved in a series of accidents that closed the thoroughfare for more than three hours during the Tuesday evening rush.
One Park Ridge police officer described it as “a scene out of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.”
A total of four people were injured, none seriously. The driver of the bus, a 77-year-old woman from Wheeling, apparently suffered some sort of medical emergency and lost control. She has been cited with driving in the wrong lane, disobeying a traffic signal and driving too fast for conditions.
Park Ridge Deputy Chief Lou Jogmen said in the half mile on Oakton between Oriole Avenue in Niles and Greenwood Avenue on the Niles-Park Ridge border, the full-sized Septran school bus hit nine cars.
“One of the cars was hit at Prospect…ended up driving into a home there,” he said.
The bus struck cars at Oriole, Prospect, Meacham and Cumberland Avenues before coming to a halt when it plowed head-on into Dimitri Coffey’s taxicab, with two passengers inside.
“It was hard to see anything because the rain was coming down really hard,” Coffey said. “I looked up and was barely able to see the outline of the bus. I tried to turn to miss it but the oncoming traffic was coming because some drivers were chasing her down because of the damage she did (before that). We basically just braced for impact.”
Neither Coffey nor his two passengers were hurt.
Coffey said he and the other motorists then tried to speak with the woman – who spoke gibberish.
“She was out of it when she got here,” Coffey said. “She thought she was still driving and she was (asking), ‘Where am I?’ and ‘What happened?’ and she didn’t even know what had gone on.”
Jogmen said personnel from the Park Ridge firehouse on the northwest corner of Oakton and Greenwood immediately summoned ambulances from Park Ridge, Niles and surrounding suburbs. He said that the driver, believed to be suffering from “a medical condition,” was transported to Lutheran General Hospital along with several other motorists who suffered injuries he described as non-life threatening.
No one, aside from the driver, was on board the Septran bus, both Coffey and Jogmen said.
He said that no one was at home when the one car, a late-model Chevy, was tossed through the garage wall.
Oakton Street was reopened to traffic at 6 p.m., about three hours and 20 minutes after the accidents occurred.