Bus careens off road after rider grabs for wheel

/ Source: The Associated Press

A Greyhound bus careered off a highway after a passenger who had been acting erratically grabbed for the steering wheel, police said. The woman tried to flee, but fellow passengers chased her down.

Eleven people were taken to hospitals for treatment, said state police Cpl. Adrian Ray.

The bus ran off Interstate 40 in the flat Delta country of eastern Arkansas on Monday evening and came to rest sharply tilted to one side, nearly concealed by thick trees.

“It was like we were lifted off the ground, and we were flying through the trees,” said passenger Paula Smith, 41, of Indianapolis.

The woman who had grabbed for the steering wheel ran after the bus stopped, but other passengers chased her down and held her until police arrived, according to passengers.

Ray identified the woman as Victoria Combs, 27, and said she was among those taken to hospitals. On Tuesday, though, state police spokesman Bill Sadler said troopers were still trying to confirm her identity. He said troopers had received conflicting statements from passengers and the driver as to whether the woman had boarded the bus in Nashville or Memphis, Tenn.

Sadler said the woman was being held at the Arkansas State Hospital while doctors tested her “mental capacity to distinguish who she is and where she is,” as well as what she remembered from the crash.

'Unruly' passenger
The woman had been acting erratically since she boarded the bus, “saying she was afraid someone was going to kill her,” said passenger Charlotte Simmons, 29, of Hot Springs. Simmons said the woman complained to the driver at one point that other passengers were spraying drugs in her face.

Sadler said someone on the bus had called state police, reporting that a passenger “had become unruly and was attempting to take control of the bus.”

A trooper was sent to find the bus, but the wreck was reported before he reached the scene, Sadler said. He said that after the woman was released from the hospital she would be arrested and taken to the Lonoke County Jail.

Greyhound said 49 people were aboard the bus, which had started its trip at Richmond, Va. Sadler said none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening.