An out-of-control school bus, empty except for the driver, careened down Oakton Street and hit about six other vehicles Tuesday, just before 2:30 p.m.
The bus traveled more than a mile westbound from about Milwaukee Avenue to Greenwood Avenue through Niles and Park Ridge, according to Park Ridge Police Commander Lou Jogmen. It traveled in the oncoming traffic lanes.
The driver may have been suffering from a medical condition, he said. Minor injuries were reported.
Park Ridge police got a call at 2:29 p.m. indicating the bus had struck a vehicle at Oakton Street at Oriole. As they were responding, reports of additional collisions came in. The bus traveled right past Emerson Middle School, on Oakton between Prospect and Cumberland, more than half an hour before the 3 p.m. dismissal time.
The bus hit a compact black sedan that was facing east on Oakton and trying to make a left turn onto Prospect. The impact caused the car to fly at least 30 feet and strike the garage of a home at the southwest corner of Prospect and Oakton, said Kathy Hirsch, a teacher's assistant at Jefferson School, one block to the north. Hirsch said it was her mother's home and that no one in the home was injured.
The impact totaled the front end of the car, knocked out bricks on the garage and bent in the garage door. The driver walked into the Yogli Mogli frozen yogurt shop across the street afterward to dry off from the rain, said Yogli Mogli manager Liad Shlomo.
Jogmen said the bus continued moving westbound in the oncoming (eastbound) traffic lanes, and hit a couple of cars near Meacham and another car at Cumberland, a semi-arterial where Jefferson School is located. As it approached Greenwood Avenue, a four-lane street, it plunged into a vehicle that was southbound on Greenwood trying to turn left onto Oakton. That impact finally stopped the bus.
Jogmen estimated there were six collisions in all, with only minor injuries, including the bus driver.
As to the cause of the accident, "At this point, we're thinking a medical condition of the bus driver," he said.
Jogmen said the school bus she was driving said "Septran" on the side — a Northbrook-based school bus company — but did not know from which school district it originated.
Shlomo, the Yogli Mogli shop manager, said the driver of the totalled vehicle seemed fine as he walked into the shop after the bus hit his vehicle.
"I had a customer that offered to take him to the hospital, but the police came and he went out to talk to them and I haven't seen him since," Shlomo said. "He said a bus hit him head on and kept on going."
He also said a customer told him that when the bus driver hit the last car, which stopped her bus, the police pulled her out and she had no idea what had happened.
Police and fire officials have sealed off Oakton Street, between Greenwood and Oriole avenues, following the accident.
The accident occurred near Emerson Middle School, 8101 N. Cumberland Ave., and as a result, school busses will be delayed for the North Side of Park Ridge. The accident happened over several blocks, from east to westbound on Oakton Street.
Kathy Hirsch, a teacher's assistant at Jefferson School, said a bus hit a car so hard that the impact shot it down the street and into a garage (see image).
An officer on the scene said there were five separate accidents. It is unclear if the crash involved any school buses at this time.
If new details come in, Patch will update.