St. Louis (KSDK) - Officials with the Greyhound Bus Company say a thorough investigation is underway into the circumstances of why a company driver abandoned her duties and passengers over the weekend in the Missouri boot heel.
A Greyhound corporate communication spokeswoman told NewsChannel 5 Tuesday morning the driver has been removed from active service until the conclusion of the probe. No timetable was provided as to when the company expects to conclude the investigation.
Greyhound officials would not say whether the driver is on paid or unpaid leave during the investigation. They did say the appropriate disciplinary action will be assessed at the end of the investigation.
The incident evolved while passengers were on their way to the Gateway City on Friday.
Passengers say it was a travel nightmare. A Greyhound bus bound for St. Louis was stranded all night at a truck-stop after the driver got off the bus and never came back.
The driver is reportedly supposed to meet with her supervisors at Greyhound Monday. But The Commercial Appeal is reporting those supervisors haven't been able to get in touch with her. The Memphis paper is also reporting she has been with the company since 2004.
The situation happened Friday night. Passengers say the first problem on the trip happened in Sikeston. They say the driver kicked a passenger, 65, off the bus in Sikeston because she didn't like what he was saying. The bus continued North on I-55. Around Cape Girardeau, the driver pulled over and stopped the bus on the side of the road. She told passengers she was leaving. She locked the door and went outside to wait for a ride. Passengers called 911 and police ordered the driver back on the bus.
But instead of heading north to St. Louis, she turned the bus around. She got off the interstate in Charleston, MO and got off the bus for good. The passengers were stranded at a truck-stop. They called Greyhound for help, but it took hours to get a new driver. They ended up spending the night on the bus.
"She did it twice," passenger Danyel Thompson said of the bus driver. "She locked us in on the side of the highway and then the second time she just left. It was horrible."
They finally arrived in St. Louis just before noon, nearly 12 hours after they were scheduled to arrive.
"I was shocked," passenger Ashley Ahart said. "I felt like I was being punked. I was upset. I was scared because I didn't know if a new bus was going to come. They kept saying a new bus was going to come, but no busses came so we had to spend the night on the bus."
A spokesperson for Greyhound says the driver will be disciplined on Monday. She apologized for the incident and said it should have never happened. If passengers are still in St. Louis, they can get a refund from the Greyhound station today. If they cannot make it to the station, they can call 513-362-4546 or email Maureen.email@example.com to get a refund (customer service specialists will start issuing refunds on Monday). In order to get reimbursed, passengers need to have proof of travel.