--Sun-Times Media Wire, Sun-Times September 26, 2012 8:18AM
Updated: September 26, 2012 8:18AM
The parents of a University of Missouri graduate student killed in a downstate Megabus crash in August filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday in Chicago against the bus company.
Aditi R. Avhad, a 25-year-old graduate student in health administration, was killed when the double-decker bus carrying 81 passengers crashed into a concrete bridge support pillar near Litchfield, Ill., on Aug 2.
Her father Raghunath M. Avhad and mother Vaishali R. Avhad were traveling with her on the bus, the suit said. They said in the suit they are still emotionally traumatized from seeing their daughter fatally injured.
"It was a significant and devastating injury to the family," their lawyer Larry R. Rogers said Tuesday. "The parents are still suffering from the loss of their daughter. They were a very close family."
The family -- originally from Mumbai, India -- was returning to Columbia, Mo., from a weeklong trip to the Chicago area when the crash happened, Rogers said. Their daughter had only been studying in the United States for about a year at the time.
The parents accuse Megabus and Coach Leasing, as well as driver Preston Taylor of failing to properly maintain and inspect the bus and its tires, among other things.
Illinois State Police previously said a blown tire may have caused the crash, but that driver error appears not to have contributed to the collision, which injured 47 people.
Megabus released a statement after the crash saying the bus "had passed a full preventative maintenance check -- including tires -- within the past week. Maintenance checks are performed . . . approximately every 10 days."
In a statement released Tuesday night, Megabus.com President and COO Dale Moser said, "All of our staff at megabus.com are deeply saddened by the incident that took place in Litchfield and our sincere thoughts and prayers go out to those involved."
"In that the incident is still under investigation by the authorities, we will continue to lend full cooperation to them."
Tuesday's 24-count suit claims negligence, wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress. It seeks at least $1,200,000 in damages.
Other passengers hurt in the collision have filed at least six other lawsuits in Cook County Circuit Court so far.
Chicago Mary Jane Klein filed suit in August after she, her young sons Brandon and Nicholas Eckstein and relative Eleanor Klein were all hurt in the crash while traveling to visit relatives in St. Louis.
South Side native and University of Missouri student Jason Whitaker, as well as DePaul University student Jamie Schultz and Columbia College student Lewis Vaughn IV are also suing over their injuries.