Bus driver fights off angry passenger that tried to take the wheel

POSTED: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 11:30am

UPDATED: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 11:34am

A California bus driver is being hailed as hero for fighting off a belligerent passenger who tried to commandeer his vehicle.

Robert Galantine, 59, of Placentia, is in custody after trying to take control of a bus carrying almost two dozen passengers southbound on the I-5 freeway in Irvine Sunday.

"I'm calling the operator a hero," Jim Amormino said of the Orange County Sheriff's Department said. "On the freeway, people are travelling 55, 60 mph ... a collision would have had very tragic results."

Galantine reportedly demanded the driver pull off the freeway because he passed his exit.

When the driver explained that he wasn’t supposed to get off yet, the suspect became upset and tried to steer the bus, at least twice, from the carpool lane into the adjacent traffic lane.

The suspect then grabbed the driver’s sunglasses off his face, and ripped the bus radio out of its socket when the driver tried to report the incident.

In the frenzy, the driver was able to pull the bus off the freeway at Culver Drive, where Galantine ran into a shopping center before police found him.

He was arrested for battery and child endangerment, because two of the bus' passengers were children, police said. Galantine is being held on $200,000 bail.

No one was injured.

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