HACKENSACK, N.J. (CN) — A Montreal woman who got trapped in the luggage compartment of a bus wants damages now from Coach USA, saying the driver kept her prisoner for 45 minutes to avoid disrupting the schedule.
Filed Wednesday in Bergen County Superior Court, the complaint says Linda Rowe’s nightmare ride began at a bus depot in Toronto’s Scarborough Town Center with one bus to Montreal and “one very large and heavy suitcase.”
Rowe had initially tried to take a seat but says another passenger advised her to load her suitcase herself in the storage compartment of the bus.
And load it up she did. As Rowe struggled to get the heavy suitcase in a compartment already near capacity, Rowe says the driver watched indifferently.
“Without any assistance, Rowe had to climb into the compartment to make space for her luggage and then pull her own suitcase inside,” the complaint states. “At this point and without any advance warning, the compartment door slammed shut causing Rowe to be trapped.”
Rowe says her screams and banging made little difference, but she was able to use her cellphone to call her brother who in turn called the police who in turn called Coach headquarters, relaying Rowe’s predicament to the driver.
“Coach including the driver were told a convoy of police cars were at the ready to stop the bus and free Rowe unless Coach did so immediately,” the complaint states. “Despite Coach’s promise to cooperate the bus kept going. In fact, the bus traveled about another 30 kilometers.”
This took about 45 minutes, at which point the bus made its next scheduled stop in Whitby, “presumably to maintain the bus schedule,” the complaint muses.
Light-headed from her ordeal, Rowe says she returned her seat without even an offer of water, let alone an apology. She filled out an incident report when the bus made another stop in Kingston, reboarding the bus under the stewardship of a new driver.
Rowe says the bus made it to Brockville, at which point she asked if she could get more water because she was coughing badly, unable to shake the smell of diesel from her ride in the undercarriage.
“Shockingly, [the driver] refused and told Rowe, that if she got off to get water, he would leave her there!” the complaint states.
Rowe says that she was traumatized and needed two treatments in a Hyperbaric Decompression Chamber to purge the gases from her blood system. Seeking $1 million in damages for negligence, Rowe claims she “continues to receive medical treatment to this day.” She is represented by Manhattan attorney Martin Shell.
Representatives for Coach USA have not yet responded to a request seeking comment. The complaint also names as a defendant Trentway-Wager Inc., out of Ontario, which operates Megabus in Canada.