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updated: 8/29/2014 9:10 PM

Two firefighters help rescue driver, 15 passengers in O'Hare bus crash

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  • None of the 16 crash victims suffered life-threatening injuries, according to authorities.

      None of the 16 crash victims suffered life-threatening injuries, according to authorities.
    courtesy of NBC5 Chicago

  • A shuttle bus struck a concrete barrier Friday morning on Interstate 190 near O'Hare International Airport.

      A shuttle bus struck a concrete barrier Friday morning on Interstate 190 near O'Hare International Airport.
    courtesy of NBC5 Chicago

 
 

Two Chicago firefighters headed to work Friday morning helped rescue a shuttle bus driver and 15 passengers after the bus struck a concrete barrier near the terminal at O'Hare International Airport.

The rental car company bus, transporting passengers from a nearby parking lot, hit the barrier about 6:30 a.m., forcing police to shut down westbound Interstate 190 for more than an hour.

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The crash snarled traffic and led some to get out of cars and taxis and walk along the shoulder, rushing to get to their departing planes.

All of victims were taken to a hospital, but none suffered life-threatening injuries, police said.

District Fire Chief Tim Sampey told reporters that the two firefighters happened to be driving their cars right behind the bus, on their way to the fire station, when the crash occurred.

One of firefighters, Rory Williams, used a hammer he had in his car to break one of the bus' glass windows to rescue the female driver, who was pinned in. An airport employee helped Williams lift the driver out of the bus and bring her to a safe area, Sampey said.

The other firefighter, Robert Gembala, climbed into the bus to rescue passengers. Those most seriously injured were located in the front of the bus, authorities said.

"It was kind of surreal," Gembala told ABC 7 Chicago. "The bus was just going straight into the barrier, and you saw steam and smoke come out of the front of the bus and fluids were all over the ground.

"We're trained to make sure you take care of the patients first."

Lanes reopened after 8 a.m. once the bus was towed away and fluids cleaned from the highway.

The bus driver, Queshonyas Eubanks, 43, of Country Club Hills, was issued citations for failing to carry or produce a driver's license and failing to stay within a lane, police said.

• Daily Herald staff writers Lee Filas and Steve Zalusky contributed to this report.

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