Wild shuttle ride leaves passengers climbing out of windows: 'We're getting kidnapped'

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Passengers on a shuttle destined to arrive at the Queen Mary Thursday night were taken on a wild and terrifying ride. Long Beach police said Friday the driver was "simply lost."

Dozens boarded a shuttle bus to travel from the Aquarium of the Pacific to the Queen Mary, a one-mile trip, for the Queen Mary's Dark Harbor event.

The trip took a dramatic turn when passengers began to believe they were being kidnapped as their bus was headed in the wrong direction -- and the driver wouldn't stop.

"He wasn't responding to anybody," passenger Ashia Souder said. "And I was like, 'We're getting kidnapped.'"

"We were all trying to get off the bus, telling him to stop, let us off and he wouldn't stop," Lee Piatelli said.

As the less than 10 minute drive from the Pike parking structure near Aquarium of the Pacific to the Queen Mary hit nearly 30 minutes and had entered the city of Carson, a passenger pleaded with the driver to stop.

Video from the ride shows several passengers pleading with the driver.

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

Panic set in and people began to get off the bus -- however they could. People began opening windows and climbing out of the shuttle.

"People started opening up the windows and everybody starts jumping out and clamoring and wedging in a panic," Scott McCaslin said.

The bus driver eventually opened the door and let the remaining passengers out at a gas station near East Del Amo Boulevard and South Central Avenue in Carson. He said he wanted to find a safe place to stop before letting passengers out.

Some had called 911 around 8 p.m. to report they had been kidnapped. Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies and Long Beach police arrived a short time later.

Long Beach police said the 60-year-old driver, who works for a private company hired to transport patrons to the event, became disoriented due to street closures and got lost.

The man who claimed he was assaulted by the driver during the incident signed a private persons arrest for battery, police said. The driver told police a separate verbal fight had happened earlier, when the man tried to board the bus with open alcohol.

The driver was taken into custody, booked on a battery charge and later released.

There were 20-30 passengers on the bus. No other injuries were reported.

The Queen Mary issued this statement:

"The safety and security of our guests are paramount. We are working with all parties involved to learn more about the incident with this vendor, and will provide updates as more information develops. All Guests have been refunded."

WLS-TV contributed to this report.
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