LITCHFIELD, Il. (KMOV) -- Passengers aboard the Megabus from Chicago to Kansas City didn't have time to react. When all was said and done 46 people were injured and one person was dead.
"I was kind of dozing off and I heard a tire blowing off, boom, boom, boom," said Zaq Hall, who was traveling home to Kansas.
"It kind of felt like the bus was going to tip," said Megan Arns, who was on her way home to St. Charles after an overseas trip to Jordan. "And (the driver) eventually regained control and was able to keep it upright."
"We went off the road, then boom, boom, boom, CRASH!" said Hall.
The double-decker Megabus slammed into an overpass support pillar just north of Litchfield, Illinois on Interstate 55.
Hall says he knew a tire blew because he experienced the same thing on his way to Chicago on Tuesday. "And I know exactly what it sounds like because on the way up here 2 days ago the exact same thing happened where a tire blew out."
But in that case the driver was able to slow down and pull over. The crash on Thursday turned deadly. At least one passenger was killed and several were in critical condition as of Thursday night.
"There were people on the floor," said Hall. "A lot of people had bloody faces."
"Absolute panic, people were screaming, didn't know what to do," said Arns.
Some immediately grabbed the phone before getting off the bus. Elletta Cole-Lenoir of St. Louis received a call from her 17-year-old son aboard the bus.
"It was scary," said Cole-Lenoir. "He said the whole front of the bus was pretty much gone. And I'm like what? I had to have him repeat what he said."
Her 17-year-old, Jaquan, suffered a cut to his head and will be okay. Her 9-year-old, Milton, was in the bathroom and hit his stomach hard. He, too, will be okay.
Some victims jumped in to help their fellow passengers, like Megan Arns. She had cuts and bruises on her face and neck.
"We were laying people on the ground and it seemed like the emergency vehicles arrived really quickly," said Arns.
Some passengers toward the front of the bus were trapped near where the bus slammed into the pillar. Zaq Hall saw a woman unconcious and a man who was trapped.
"Looked like he was in a lot pain, there was a lot of blood, and it looked like they were trying to cut him out with the jaws of life."
Paramedics had to use ladders to free passengers from the top floor of the bus. The rescue took over an hour. One person, identified as as 25-year-old Aditi Avhad, was killed.
Authorities said 41 people were transported and five were airlifted to area hospitals.