City investigating after HSR driver accused of grabbing passenger by hair
The city is investigating after an HSR driver was captured in a photo allegedly grabbing a passenger by the hair Tuesday.
Officials are speaking to witnesses to ensure they have all the facts before commenting further, city spokesperson Jasmine Graham said Wednesday.
“We are aware of the incident that took place yesterday between an HSR operator and one of our customers and are currently investigating the matter.”
Meanwhile, the union that represents HRS drivers alleges the Route 23 Upper Gage operator herself was assaulted during the incident.
“Social media, unfortunately, doesn’t tell both sides of the story,” said Eric Tuck, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 107.
But Tuck added he could say little amid the ongoing investigation.
The photo posted on Facebook and taken by fellow passenger Sierra Johnson Tuesday shows a female bus driver holding another woman by the hair.
Johnson told The Spectator the incident began on the Route 23 Upper Gage bus after a girl in front of her didn’t have photo ID to show with her student bus pass.
Johnson, 19, who was with her one-year-old son, said she didn’t have photo ID with her pass, either. After a disagreement, the driver told her to put 30 cents in the fare box. She then began to yell at her to “sit the (expletive) down.” Johnson alleges.
Johnson said she was offended and called HSR to complain, when the driver yelled at her to get off the phone. In the heat of the moment, the driver missed a stop, Johnson said. Then the driver stopped, got off the bus and talked on her phone.
The girl who’d been in front of her got off the bus to complain she was going to be late for work, Johnson said.
That’s when the driver grabbed the girl by the hair and held her, Johnson alleges, adding she was repeatedly saying, “Let go of me, please.”
Regular Route 23 rider Marissa McConnell said she witnessed the episode. “I don’t think any part of that was right. I work at two jobs with the public and you would never lay your hands on someone.”
A supervisor eventually arrived and told those passengers left on the bus another one was on its way.
Tuck said police were called because the driver was allegedly assaulted during the incident.
Police spokesperson Const. Claus Wagner said police weren’t called to the scene but he couldn’t confirm whether the driver reported the incident after the fact.
The city is investigating reports an HSR driver grabbed a rider by the hair.