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“There was nobody in the seat!” 11 hurt after driver collapses, bus crashes into concrete median on I-94

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KENOSHA COUNTY (WITI) -- Eleven people suffered minor injuries late Saturday, January 24th after the coach-style bus they were traveling in crashed into a concrete median on southbound I-94 in Kenosha County. This, after the driver of the bus suffered an apparent medical emergency.

"There was a potential for a more catastrophic incident," Kenosha County Sheriff's Sgt. Dan Ruth said.

The Kenosha County Sheriff's Department tells FOX6 News the incident happened around 11:30 p.m. The male driver of the "Blue Bus Lines Charters and Tour" commercial bus apparently experienced a medical condition and collapsed while the bus was traveling on the interstate -- near the Village of Bristol. The bus struck the concrete median two to three times before a passenger was able to take the wheel and stop the bus. That passenger has been identified as 48-year-old Jill Bien of Norridge, Illinois. She sustained minor injuries.

"(The driver) fell out of the seat -- was no longer in the seat, so the bus was going along without a driver. (Jill Bien) immediately noticed the bus was drifting, so it was just a short time actually that she was able to get into the driver's seat, saw the driver on the floor and apply the brakes to stop the bus," Sgt. Ruth said.

"All of a sudden I looked and he wasn't even in the seat. There was nobody in the seat. Grabbed the wheel and pushed down on the brake and tried to get it to stop on the side. It worked out for the best and it was just frightful to not see anybody sitting in that seat. I couldn`t believe it was empty and the wheel was just going by itself," Jill Bien told FOX6's Jenna Sachs.

The bus stopped just south of Highway 50.

The bus was carrying 34 adult passengers at the time of the crash -- headed from Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee en route to the Chicago area. Eleven of those passengers were taken to three different hospitals with minor injuries.

"Mostly it looks like they were all passengers from the Chicago area. They were not serious. It was non life-threatening. They were transported to a few area hospitals," Sgt. Ruth said.

No other vehicles were involved in the crash.

"There were not other cars involved, thank goodness," Sgt. Ruth said.

The bus suffered minor damage because of the crash. The bus was traveling about 60 miles an hour at the time of the crash.

The driver of the bus -- 68-year-old James Rogers of Chicago, was taken to a Kenosha hospital, where he was admitted. He was in fair condition Sunday night. He has been cooperative with the investigation, and he was not ticketed.

Neither alcohol nor speed appear to be factors in this incident.


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