Claremore Woman: Bus Breaks Down, Riders Suffer In Heat For Hours

Friday, July 30th 2010, 9:50 pm
By: News On 6

By Lacie Lowry, The News On 6

CLAREMORE, OK -- The heat definitely played into a Claremore woman's troublesome bus trip earlier this week. 

She was riding a Greyhound bus from Columbus, Ohio to Tulsa, when the bus broke down between Springfield and St. Louis, Missouri. 

Mae Denson says the temperatures in Missouri on Wednesday may not have been what we've seen in the Tulsa area, but try spending five straight hours in the dead heat.

"It was something out of my worst nightmare," said Denson, who is a Claremore resident.

Only it was the middle of the day when the bus Denson was riding broke down. Her experience was documented in pictures.

"The kids were getting hot, the elderly people were complaining it was too hot and a lot of them were diabetic," Denson said. 

The passengers called 911 and the Missouri Highway Patrol responded. Officers brought a mechanic, but still couldn't get the bus fixed. 

Meanwhile, the windows on the bus wouldn't open to let air in, so they improvised.

"We pulled the luggage out from under the luggage rack on the bus and had people sit where the luggage goes," Denson said.

Luckily, an American Red Cross worker happened to drive by. He returned with water and snacks for everyone.

"All these states have excessive heat warnings and the sun is just burning your skin and you feel tingly all over," said Denson. 

Denson says she can't stop thinking about how bad things got as the hours ticked by.

"My son is 7. A lot of the other kids out there were his age and they were just so hot," Denson said. "Everybody was wilting in a way."

The News On 6 contacted Greyhound and a representative said the company's protocol in a breakdown is:

  • Pull over to a safe location
  • Contact dispatch
  • Bring in a relief bus
  • Accommodate the passengers quickly and as best possible

Greyhound maintains it followed protocol and issued this statement:

  • "We apologize for any inconvenience the passengers may have had."
    • -- Timothy Stokes, Greyhound Lines, Inc. 

For Denson, apologies aren't enough.

"It was very frustrating, infuriating and most of all, one of the most helpless moments of our lives," said Denson.

Five hours after the bus broke down, a church van had shuttled all the passengers to a truck stop where a relief bus later picked them up.

Mae Denson is considering legal action to make Greyhound change its breakdown policy.