A passenger on a
private charter bus traveling on I-94 on Thursday is accused of grabbing the
wheel from the driver, causing the bus to crash into a semi-tractor trailer,
injuring three other passengers on the bus and occasioning a significant
emergency response from Duneland fire departments.
According to the
Indiana State Police, the bus--an Indian Trails charter--was westbound on
I-94 en route to Chicago when, east of North Brummitt Road, passenger Pedro
Garcia Rodriguez, 36, of Chicago, approached the driver, then “grabbed the
wheel in an apparent attempt to gain control of the bus.”
The bus swerved out
of its lane to the right and struck the semi, with both vehicles running off
the roadway and coming to rest upright on the outside shoulder, police said.
subsequently arrested on charges of aggravated battery, criminal
recklessness with a motor vehicle, and criminal mischief, police said. He
was transported to Porter County Jail.
The bus driver was
identified as Jill Mcvannel, 52, of Saginaw, Mich.; the semi operator, as
Daniel Martinez, 38, of Romeoville, Ill.
Capt. Rudy Jimenez
of the Chesterton Fire Department told the Chesterton Tribune this
morning that three persons were transported to Porter Regional Hospital,
complaining of chest, rib, and shoulder injuries. Five other persons signed
medical refusals at the scene.
Responding to the
scene were all three Tri-Town FDs: the CFD with an engine and ambulance; the
Porter FD with engine and rescue truck; and the Burns Harbor FD with an
ambulance and heavy rescue vehicle, the latter of which Jimenez described as
essentially “a giant tool box on wheels.”
Hospital sent three ambulances to the scene, the Portage FD responded as
well with an ambulance of its own and an ALS company, and the Valparaiso FD
put an ambulance on stand-by at Ind. 49 and the Indiana Toll Road to provide
a response in Duneland should one be needed while the Tri-Town departments
were busy on I-94. Meanwhile, off-duty CFD personnel were recalled to staff
the station at Broadway in the interim.
“We had a whole lot
of personnel at the scene,” Jimenez said. “A whole lot people. It went very,
responded with wreckers to get the bus and semi off the shoulder, and once
the bus was back on the road--and driveable--the CFD escorted it to Indian
Boundary Road and Plaza Drive. “We wanted to get the passengers off the
interstate,” Jimenez said. There the bus was met by a second Indian Trails
bus and the passengers transferred onto it.
Jimenez was unable
to say, any more than the ISP could, why the man grabbed the wheel in the