Using the cellphone signal, state police tracked down and pulled over the bus, before they freed the 32-year-old from the compartment of the Peter Pan Bus, arrested the driver and charged her with unlawful restraint.
Connecticut state police said in a statement that they were alerted to a passenger calling 911 from the luggage compartment at about 4 p.m. on Aug. 4.
“Dispatchers were able to ping her cellphone, updating troopers of the bus location,” said the Connecticut State Police. “Troopers were able to stop the bus on I-84 E/B in Union, check the luggage compartments and found the female passenger, not injured. After an investigation, the bus driver was taken into custody.”
The driver was identified as 49-year-old Wendy Helena Alberty, who was no longer at the wheel by the time state police caught up with the bus, but traveling as a passenger, according to local reports.
The woman trapped in the luggage compartment told police that she had been “purposely locked inside by a female driver while attempting to retrieve items from her bag,” according to local reports.
The passenger did not require medical attention, according to the police.
****Troopers Find Female Located in Luggage Compartment of a Peter Pan Bus*****On 8/4 at approx. 4:00pm, Troop C was…
According to the Hartford Courant, a company spokesperson said the driver did not intentionally lock the woman in the luggage compartment.
According to the Boston Globe, one their reporters, Katie Johnston, who happened to be on the bus, said the woman was in the compartment “close to an hour or so” before she was freed.
“In retrospect, a few of us remembered hearing a banging sound that must have been her, and didn’t last long, but didn’t think anything of it at the time,” Johnston said.
A few minutes after the police had pulled over the bus and asked the driver to open the compartment, the woman emerged, she said.
“She had her laptop open, and a bunch of clothes pulled out of a big backpacker’s backpack, and a conga-like drum,” Johnston said.
According to Johnston, the woman got off the bus during a brief stop in Hartford, but didn’t get back on.
Peter Pan said in a statement to the New York Post: “The operator in question is currently on investigative suspension as we continue to investigate all aspects of this incident as well as cooperate with Connecticut State Police. This operator has been with Peter Pan Bus Lines since 2012 and has been an exemplary employee of the company.”
“In our company’s 86-year history we have never had an incident such as this, the safety of our passengers and employees is always our number one priority.”
Alberty is charged with first-degree unlawful restraint, second-degree reckless endangerment, and second-degree breach of peace, according to police, NBCCT reported
Passenger Caroline Van Allen, told CBS Boston she did a double take when she saw the woman emerge from the compartment after they were pulled over.
“All of a sudden my brain didn’t know how to react, there was a person on the ground,” she said. “Did I hallucinate? Did she get off the bus? When did she get off the bus? We’ve all been sitting here.”
Van Allen also said some of the passengers sitting in the front of the bus had heard the woman banging for help.
The charge of unlawful restraint carries a penalty of 1-5 years under Connecticut state law.