Bus riders headed to Halloween event think they’re being kidnapped, but the driver was just lost, police say

A shuttle bus to the Dark Harbor event at the Queen Mary became a scare for riders Thursday night when passengers suspected a disoriented driver was trying to kidnap them, according to authorities.

The passengers were expecting a ride of a few minutes to the Halloween event. Instead, the driver went off course, prompting at least one rider to confront him and others to start climbing out windows.

But authorities say it was all a misunderstanding.

“We understand how this situation evolved into fear, causing passengers to climb out of the bus, however, through their investigation detectives learned the driver was simply lost,” Long Beach police said in a statement.

Passengers told KABC-TV they pleaded with the driver to stop and let them off but he wouldn’t respond.

“I told him straight up, ‘At this point it’s kidnapping. You can’t hold us like this,’” Brian Corbitt told the TV station. “I stood up with him, and he just whipped around and nailed me in the stomach and knocked me back into a seat.”

When the bus stopped at a traffic signal in Carson, passengers headed for windows and emergency exits. Video obtained by the station shows the scramble to get out.

“The driver then pulled into a nearby gas station for the other passengers to exit,” police said.

Law enforcement responded after he pulled over around 8 p.m. and took the driver into custody. One of the passengers alleged the driver battered him, but police also noted there’d been an earlier disagreement between the two.

“The driver told officers that a separate verbal altercation occurred earlier in the evening with the alleged victim when he attempted to board the bus with an open alcoholic beverage,” police said.

Police said the driver was disoriented because of street closures on his route to Dark Harbor. The bus was carrying about 20 to 30 people, according to police.

Police said the driver works for a private transportation company that was hired to shuttle visitors to the Halloween event at the Queen Mary.

In a statement, a Queen Mary representative said they’re looking into what happened.

“The safety and security of our guests are paramount,” the statement said.

This story has been updated with a statement from the Queen Mary and more info from the LBPD.

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children, Paul and Simon.