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Bus passenger dies after scuffle

October 12, 1997

By GUY FLETCHER

and BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writers

A Greyhound bus passenger who tried to take the steering wheel from the driver collapsed and died after the bus made an emergency stop early Sunday morning, Maryland State Police said.

Lucio Rodas, 33, of Grand Island, Neb., suddenly became violent at about 3 a.m. as the Washington, D.C.-bound bus neared Md. 65 on Interstate 70, police said. Rodas began pacing up and down the aisle while speaking Spanish. He tried to get off the bus, grabbed the steering wheel and tried to kick out the windows, according to police.

The bus driver pulled into the park-and-ride lot on Col. Henry K. Douglas Drive as several passengers tried to restrain Rodas, police said.

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Maryland State Police Trooper 1st Class Matt Jones, who had been flagged down by people who had just left the park-and-ride lot, found Rodas kicking and biting the other passengers when he arrived at about 3:30 a.m. They were trying to hold Rodas' arms and legs, police said.

"It was a very brief contact," said Capt. Greg Shipley, a state police spokesman.

Seconds later, Rodas collapsed, police said. Troopers immediately tried to revive him and called for an ambulance. At first troopers detected a faint pulse but then found nothing.

Medics took Rodas to Washington County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy will be performed at the state medical examiner's office in Baltimore to determine the cause of death. Shipley said preliminary results could be available this week. But he added that it will likely be some time before authorities learn whether drugs were in his system.

"Toxicology reports usually take weeks," he said.

The bus driver told police that the man boarded the bus in Cleveland for a trip to Washington. There was a layover in Pittsburgh, where the man and other passengers ate breakfast before continuing the trip, police said.

None of the nine remaining passengers could offer any reason for the man's behavior. Following interviews with police, the passengers continued their trip on another Greyhound bus.

"He was apparently acting normal until the bus approached Hagerstown," Shipley said.

Police believe Rodas is a citizen of El Salvador who has been living in the United States for at least two years. Shipley said legal documents from the Immigration and Naturalization Service found with Rodas' belongings suggested he was married. However, the Grand Island police found no one at his address, Shipley said.

Police searched three bags Rodas was carrying and found no drugs or other contraband. Shipley said the bags contained clothing and other personal items.

None of the other passengers were injured, police said.

The investigation is continuing.

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