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North suburban animal shelter files lawsuit against bus company after crash

A north suburban animal shelter has filed a lawsuit against a bus company whose driver crashed a school bus through the front wall of the shelter in October 2013.

Wright-Way Rescue filed the suit Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court against Alltown Bus Service Inc., and driver Janice O’Leary.

The crash happened just before 1 p.m. on Oct. 2, 2013. The bus was southbound on Harem Avenue making a left turn onto eastbound Touhy Avenue at the Niles-Chicago border when the driver told police she lost control, Niles police said at the time.

The bus jumped a curb on the north side of Touhy and crashed into Wright-Way. No one inside the building, human or animal, was injured. O’Leary was ticketed for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, authorities said.

According to the lawsuit, O’Leary became distracted, fell off her seat and lost control of the bus.

After the crash, the building was deemed unfit for occupancy and the shelter, which saves animals from being euthanized at other facilities, was forced to move to a new location, the lawsuit claims.

“As a result of the crash, many of the animals that WWR had planned to rescue were instead euthanized at animal control facilities throughout the Midwest,” the suit states.

The three-count suit seeks at least $300,000 in damages.

“Since 2003, we have facilitated the adoption of thousands of animals on a yearly basis; more dogs than any other Illinois facility for the last four years in a row,” Christy Anderson, Wright-Way’s executive director and founder, said in a statement announcing the suit.

“When this bus crashed through our front door, it took our breath away. What took 10 years to build was destroyed in seconds,” Anderson said.

A representative for the Alltown Bus Service did not immediately respond to a call for comment Thursday afternoon.

No one was hurt when a bus crashed into the Wright-Way Rescue in Niles in 2013. | Wright-Way Rescue photo