The man who stole a bus in Spokane on Monday had just skipped out on a mental evaluation at a nearby hospital.
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 joy ride.
The 22-year-old is in custody, accused of boarding the empty bus as it idled at Spokane Intermodal Center and driving off just before 8 a.m.
The bus driver reportedly was using a bathroom at the time.
According to the Spokane Police Department, the man walked away from Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, where he had gone for a mental evaluation. Police say he was still wearing his hospital wristband when they arrested him leaving the stolen bus near a pizza parlor in Spokane Valley.
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How the bus got there is unclear, but motorists spotted it and began following it while alerting authorities. Spokane County sheriff’s deputies stopped the bus near the pizza parlor.
The man initially ignored police commands to exit the bus but gave up within minutes, according to Spokane police.
Nothing was stolen from the bus. The man left behind a lighter and a 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 (the man) chose to stop.”