Bus accident sends four to hospital

Four people were transported to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston Saturday morning after a hit and run accident involving a Pace bus.

At approximately 8:30 Saturday morning, residents heard screeching tires and a crash when a Pace bus hit a Toyota Corolla on Rogers Avenue in Rogers Park.

Hinton Dillard, a seven-year veteran bus driver for Pace said “I saw the guy coming out of the parking space. I looked and saw I had room so I moved over into the other lane, but he just kept coming. I swerved but I couldn’t avoid him.”

Dillard thought the driver was attempting to make a u-turn after pulling out of the spot.

The car was parked on Rogers Avenue facing east, the same direction the bus was traveling. After being hit by the bus, the car was pushed up onto the sidewalk.

The driver then drove off the sidewalk, turned west onto Rogers and parked the car.

Dillard stopped the bus a couple of yards from the accident and got out to exchange information and call the police. As he approached the car, now facing west, the driver took off.

A police officer patrolling the area stopped and passengers pointed northwest when asked in what direction the car fled. The police officer went north, but the driver had gone south and he lost him.

Dillard said he probably could have avoided hitting the car full force had he slammed on the brakes but he didn’t because “a woman had just signaled that she wanted to stop on Clark and was standing near the door waiting to be let off. If I had hit the brakes she would have flown through the windshield.”

The police officer credited Dillard with his actions.

“He put his passengers’ safety first. That’s what he should do.”

The bus was heavily damaged and the door would no longer open. Police and Dillard determined that the car probably had a flat tire as it was hit almost broadside. They didn’t believe it could have been driven very far.

Police on the scene collected the various car parts strewn on the road. They determined it was a blue Toyota, probably a Corolla. After taking the report and statements from the passengers, police began searching the neighborhood for the car.  The search didn’t last long.

Less than two blocks away they found the parked car with extensive damage to the driver’s side and two flat tires. They ran the plates and proceeded to the offender’s house, less than half a block from the accident on Honore Street.

As Dillard waited for a supervisor to arrive to take care of the bus, police went to the offender’s home. They were told he was at work and the officers proceeded to his job to take him into custody.

Dillard was anticipating taking a drug test and being off work for a few days until the results come back in accordance with Illinois Department of Transportation regulations.

He wasn’t worried.  He said “I’ll be off a couple of days, but at least I get paid while I’m off.”

He planned to watch the Bears game later that afternoon.