Deputies recovered a stolen Northwestern Trailways bus in Spokane Valley after a patient walked away from a mental evaluation Monday morning and took the bus for a joyride.
Sam McDonald, 22, is in custody. He is accused of boarding the empty bus as it idled outside Spokane Intermodal Center and driving away just before 8 a.m.
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, where he went for a mental evaluation. Police say he still had his hospital wristband on when they arrested him leaving 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 stopped the bus near the pizza parlor near Dishman Mica and Eighth Avenue.
McDonald initially ignored police commands to exit the bus but gave up within minutes, according to Spokane police.
Nothing was stolen from the bus. The suspect left behind a lighter and plastic Canadian coin.
Northwestern Trailways President Cleto Achabal arrived to assess damage. Scrapes were found on the right side of the bus.
Achabal said this is the first reported theft of one of the company’s buses. It was idling in the back loading area when it was stolen.
Spokane County sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Craig Chamberlin called the bus theft an example of why people should not leave vehicles 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.”