Bus passenger dies after turning violent Hagerstown troopers, others on Greyhound tried to subdue man

October 13, 1997|By Andrea Siegel | Andrea Siegel,SUN STAFF

A 33-year-old man who became violent on a Greyhound bus bound from Cleveland for Washington died early yesterday when Maryland State Police and other bus passengers tried to subdue him.

State police identified the dead man as Lucio Rodas of the 1400 block of W. Third St. in Grand Island, Neb. His body was taken to the Maryland medical examiner's office yesterday to determine the cause of death.

The incident began about 3 a.m., when Rodas started pacing the aisle of the bus, which was on Interstate 70 near Hagerstown, said Capt. Greg Shipley, state police spokesman.

Rodas was speaking Spanish, and nobody understood him, Shipley said.

Rodas went to the front of bus and tried to pry open the door, grabbed the steering wheel from the driver, John K. Ayers of Catonsville, and tried to kick out side windows. He also tried to kick and bite passengers who moved to hold his arms and legs, Shipley said.

Ayers, seeing a sign for the state police barracks at Hagerstown, turned onto Route 65 to go there. But the disruption led him to first pull into a park-and-ride lot, where he asked people who happened to be there to contact police about 3: 30 a.m., Shipley said.

Three troopers from the nearby barracks tried to help passengers restrain Rodas, who went limp and vomited. Troopers performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation but were unable to revive him. They called for an ambulance, and Rodas was taken to Washington County General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Shipley said there were no obvious signs of injury. A search of Rodas' luggage did not turn up drugs.

Reached at his home, Ayers, 46, said, "We have no communication whatsoever on the buses now. None. That's all I want to say." He declined further comment.

Greyhound Lines Inc. does not provide drivers with radios, cellular telephones or other emergency communications equipment, though the company is testing several kinds of communications systems, said Katherine Williams, a Greyhound spokeswoman. Some drivers carry personal cellular phones, she said.

The three officers who tried to restrain and then revive Rodas remain on regular duty, Shipley said, after a preliminary investigation did not point to undue force or wrongdoing. The death is being investigated by state police Internal Affairs Division and the Bureau of Drug and Criminal Enforcement.

Police in Nebraska said they had been unable to notify relatives and until they do, will have no comment.

Shipley said the bus driver and nine other passengers were questioned at the barracks, where all described Rodas as inexplicably violent.

He said documents Rodas was carrying showed he was from El Salvador and had been in the United States at least two years. He may have a wife, but yesterday there was no one at the Nebraska address, he said.

Greyhound sent another bus to take passengers to Washington. They were delayed about 1 1/2 hours, according to a Greyhound spokeswoman.

Pub Date: 10/13/97

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