Passenger accused of attacking bus driver on Arizona highway faces 25 counts of endangerment

PHOENIX – A California man will face more than two dozen felony charges after authorities say he attacked the driver of a moving Greyhound bus and caused it to careen from an Arizona highway, injuring 24 passengers.

Maquel Morris, of Los Angeles, had an initial court appearance Friday from a Phoenix hospital on 25 counts of endangerment, one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count of aggravated assault involving temporary disfigurement, and one count of criminal damage, authorities said Friday.

The 25-year-old man was ordered released on $150,000 bond at the hospital, where he’s still being treated. He is now under guard by Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies.

Authorities say the bus was heading from Los Angeles to Dallas when Morris attacked the driver early Thursday, causing the bus to swerve and go off Interstate 10 near the community of Tonopah, about 50 miles west of Phoenix.

Passenger Susana Ordinola, 48, of San Bernardino, Calif., said the man got up from his seat, ran toward the driver and screamed, “Everybody’s going to die.” He then began hitting the driver and grabbed the steering wheel.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety said several of the 41 passengers aboard helped subdue Morris. The bus came to a rest shortly before 2 a.m. in a median, just missing vehicles speeding down the highway at 75 mph.

Morris, who reportedly was hallucinating, got off the bus and ran into the desert, but he returned about 30 minutes later. Some passengers cursed and threw rocks at him before paramedics intervened.

None of the passengers taken to hospitals had life-threatening injuries, according to the DPS. The injuries included a broken sternum suffered by a man who helped restrain Morris, Officer Carrick Cook said.

The public defender’s office said Morris does not yet have an attorney. His next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 30.

A girlfriend travelling with Morris, identified in court documents as Bryanna Moore, 20, is considered a co-operative witness, authorities said.

According to documents, it’s not yet known if drugs or alcohol played a role in Morris’ behaviour but Moore told investigators at the scene that Morris had used methamphetamine earlier in the day.