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April 16, 2014

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Passenger describes frightening Arizona bus ride

PHOENIX — A late-night Greyhound bus ride through Arizona turned harrowing when witnesses say a man rose from his seat and screamed, "Everyone's going to die!"

Passengers then watched in disbelief as the man began hitting the driver and grabbing the steering wheel. The bus swerved, hurling people from their seats.

"Everybody is jumping and flying and screaming," said passenger Susana Ordinola, 48, of San Bernardino, Calif.

Authorities say several passengers stepped in to subdue the man as the bus ran off Interstate 10 early Thursday, only 50 miles from its next stop in Phoenix. It came to a rest in a median, missing some vehicles speeding down the highway at 75 mph by 6 feet.

The ordeal ended with more than half of the roughly 40 passengers injured — and some of them angry.

The 25-year-old man, who reportedly was hallucinating, ran off into the desert but returned a half-hour later. Some passengers cursed and threw rocks at him before paramedics intervened.

The bus was traveling from Los Angeles to Dallas when it went off the road shortly before 2 a.m. near the community of Tonopah.

The man "basically went berserk in the bus and grabbed control of vehicle," Harquahala Fire District Chief Dan Caudle told KPHO-TV.

The Greyhound crossed the highway median but came to a stop before entering westbound traffic when other passengers restrained the man, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said.

"The passengers descended on him," DPS spokesman Bart Graves told The Associated Press.

The bus remained upright, and none of the 24 people taken to hospitals had life-threatening injuries, the agency said.

Three were airlifted to St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, but a hospital spokeswoman said one of them was later released. Fifteen people were taken to hospitals in Goodyear and Buckeye, and five were admitted.

The injuries included a broken sternum suffered by one passenger who helped restrain the attacker, said Officer Carrick Cook, another DPS spokesman.

The agency identified the attacker as Maquel Donyel Morris, of Los Angeles.

Ordinola described the experience while waiting for a bus back to California. She said she heard other passengers complain to the driver about Morris during a stop in Blythe, Calif. She then saw the driver talk to him.

After the bus entered Arizona, the man suddenly ran toward the driver. "He screamed, 'Everybody's going to die,'" Ordinola said.

Ordinola said she was sitting right behind the driver and saw Morris grab the wheel.

She added that when the bus came to a stop — after what felt like a roller-coaster ride — she saw people bleeding and in pain.

Morris got off the bus and took off running with a female companion, the DPS said.

When other passengers saw Morris coming back, they started cursing at him and yelling, "That's the guy," Ordinola said. Some threw rocks.

According to Ordinola, Morris' companion tried to shield him before paramedics stepped in.

Graves said Morris reportedly was hallucinating and indicated he wanted to get off the bus. He was arrested at the scene and taken to a hospital for a drug-induced condition, Graves said.

Morris likely faces numerous counts of endangerment, assault and aggravated assault, the DPS said. He does not yet have an attorney.

Greyhound spokeswoman Alexandra Pedrini said the bus was carrying 41 passengers, plus the driver. However, DPS counted 46 passengers.

Another bus was sent to the accident scene to take the nearly 20 uninjured passengers to Phoenix so they could continue to their destinations, Pedrini said.

Ordinola, who had pain in her knees and a rib, was treated at a Phoenix hospital.

"I just want to go home," she said.

A similar accident involving a Greyhound bus occurred in Casa Grande in 2001. That bus, which also originated in Los Angeles, rolled onto its side after a male passenger allegedly grabbed the steering wheel. The wreck left 33 people injured.

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