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Woman stuck on RTD bus while driver uses restroom

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DENVER -- What started as a routine bus ride home from her sister’s home turned into what a young woman from Aurora says was one of her worst nightmares.

Monica Vera-Knutson,19, contacted the FOX31 Problem Solvers after being trapped in a Regional Transportation District bus with no way out.

Security camera video obtained by the Problem Solvers shows the driver of RTD bus #6252 approach a 7-Eleven near 6th and Quebec at 8:55 p.m. on Sept. 16, 2019.

That’s when the driver made an unplanned, unannounced and unexpected stop in front of the 7-Eleven.

Monica Vera-Knutson was sitting at the back of the bus when, without a word, the driver got out of his seat, put on his hat, and exited the bus.

The driver then walked around the bus to the driver’s side window, reached through and closed the doors to the bus. Monica Vera-Knutson was locked on-board the bus.

In an interview with Problem Solver Investigative Reporter, Chris Koeberl, Vera-Knutson said, “One of my fears is to never get trapped in, like a bus, a car, a van, whatever, and he just made that fear come true.”

As the on-board security video continues, Vera-Knutson walked to the front of the bus and attempt to open the doors to the RTD bus.

That’s when she realized she was trapped inside.

Vera-Knutson tells Koeberl, “I felt like I was contained in a box and I couldn’t get out.”

Meanwhile, the driver of the bus, according to RTD, was inside the adjacent 7-Eleven using the restroom. It took him more than 12 minutes to return to the parked bus.

In those 12 minutes, security video showed Vera-Knutson continually pacing back and forth from the front of the bus to the back.

She told Koeberl she was talking to her sister, whom she’d left a short time ago, “I was so scared that I called my sister and I told my sister that I wanted to get off the bus and she tried to help me with all her might but she couldn’t help me through the phone.”

In an interview with Problem Solver Investigative Reporter Chris Koeberl, Regional Transportation District Senior Specialist for Public Affairs Laurie Huff confirmed what happened.

Koeberl asked,“In this case was the passenger locked inside the bus?” Huff replied, “That is correct. Because the doors were not allowed to open the passenger was not able to exit the vehicle.”

In a statement to the Problem Solvers RTD stated, “RTD operators are allowed to use the restroom along their route when they are unable to wait until they reach the terminal. Our operators typically handle them appropriately and according to policy. RTD’s real-time data show that this bus was stopped at Quebec and Sixth from 8:55 – 9:08 p.m. (13 minutes) on Sept. 16.”

Laurie Huff said the driver violated RTD policy by not informing the passenger of the reason for the stop and by closing the doors to the bus, “What we would say to that young woman is what happened here was truly an honest mistake. It was a situation where the driver should have followed policy.”

Huff told the Problem Solvers the driver will receive “additional training” for the policy violations. Vera-Knutson told Koeberl she takes little comfort in that, “All I was thinking about is how to get off this bus I need to get off this bus and if I don’t get off this bus what will happen?”

At 9:07 p.m., the driver returned to the bus. He opened the doors and Vera-Knutson darted out of the bus. The driver, watching her run away, asked her “If she’s walking now”.

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