A stolen Trailways bus was recovered in Spokane Valley this morning after being taken for an apparent joy ride.
The suspected thief, 22-year-old Sam McDonald, is in custody, authorities said. McDonald is believed to have hopped on the empty bus as it idled outside the Spokane Intermodal Center downtown and driven away. The bus driver reportedly was using a bathroom at the time.
According to the Spokane Police Department, McDonald walked away from Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center this morning, where he’d been taken for a mental evaluation. Police say he still had his hospital wristband on when he was arrested coming off the stolen bus near Savage Land Pizza in Spokane Valley.
How the bus got to Spokane Valley is unclear but motorists spotted it near the Ponderosa subdivision near Dishman Mica and Schafer roads and began following it while alerting authorities. Spokane County sheriff’s deputies got the bus stopped at the pizza parlor near Dishman Mica and Eighth Avenue.
McDonald initially ignored police commands to exit the bus but gave up after about 10 minutes, according to Spokane Police.
Nothing was stolen from the bus, but the suspect left behind a lighter and plastic Canadian coin.
Northwestern Trailways president Cleto Achabal, arrived to the scene to assess the bus’ damage. Scrapes were found on the right side of the bus.
Achabal said this is the first reported theft of one of their buses. It was idling in the back loading area when it was stolen just before 8 a.m. The bus driver had left for a few minutes for a bathroom break. There were no passengers in the vehicle at the time of theft.
County sheriff’s spokesman Craig Chamberlin said this incident is an example of why it is dangerous to leave a car running while unattended.
“People don’t care if it’s a bus or car,” Chamberlin said. “We got lucky on this one because McDonald chose to stop.”