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Woman trapped inside luggage compartment of Peter Pan bus rescued after calling 911; driver charged

A 32-year-old New York woman went on a harrowing ride when she got trapped in the luggage compartment of a Boston-bound bus Sunday, and the bus driver who allegedly locked her inside is now facing criminal charges.

The woman called 911 while traveling east on Interstate 84, and Connecticut State Police were dispatched to intercept the Peter Pan bus near Union, just South of the Massachusetts border.

According to the police report, the woman told police that she had been “purposely locked inside by a female driver while attempting to retrieve items from her bag.”

Police identified the accused driver as Wendy Alberty, 49, of New Jersey. She was taken into custody and charged with reckless endangerment and unlawful restraint, as well as breaching the peace. According to police she was being held on a $2,000 bond and was due to appear in Rockville Superior Court on Aug. 21.

Peter Pan said the driver “is currently on investigative suspension.”

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The driver, whom Peter Pan did not identify, was hired in 2012 and “has been an exemplary employee for the company,” the bus line said.

In a statement, Peter Pan said it was “deeply concerned” over the incident and that it had suspended the driver pending an investigation.

Wendy Alberty.
Wendy Alberty.Connecticut State Police

Globe reporter Katie Johnston, who was traveling on the Peter Pan bus when the drama unfolded, said the woman may have been locked in the compartment “close to an hour or so” before she was freed.

“In retrospect, a few of us remembered hearing a banging sound that must have been her, and didn’t last long, but didn’t think anything of it at the time,” Johnston said.

“When the police pulled us over, they opened both luggage compartments — first the one toward the front, which she wasn’t in, then the rear one — and stared into them for what seemed like a few minutes, and then suddenly, the woman appeared,” Johnston said. “She had her laptop open, and a bunch of clothes pulled out of a big backpackers’ backpack, and a conga-like drum.”

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Johnston said the woman was wearing shorts and a colorful scarf around her neck, and didn’t appear to be in distress.

Apparently, the woman had gotten off the bus during a brief stop in Hartford and never returned, she said.

“The guy who had been sitting next to her on the bus said he noticed she wasn’t on the bus, but he figured she moved to a different seat [the bus wasn’t completely full],” Johnston said. “The banging must have been coming from her.”


Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.