TONOPAH, Ariz. -- Dozens of people are in the hospital and one man is behind bars after he allegedly attacked the driver of a Phoenix-bound Greyhound bus, apparently trying to cause the massive vehicle to roll.
It happened at about 1:30 a.m. as the bus was heading east on Interstate 10. It was about 50 miles outside of Phoenix near Tonopah at the Burnt Well Rest Area.
"After coming to a stop, the suspect and his girlfriend fled into the desert," said Arizona Department of Public Safety Officer Carrick Cook in an email to 3TV. "They returned 30 minutes later and [he was] arrested by the Highway Patrol."
Exclusive 3TV video from the scene shows the suspect, Maquel Donyel Morris, 25, in the back of a DPS squad car. According to 3TV's Jill Galus, he was screaming, "They're going to kill me. Call my mom!"
The suspect's girlfriend, who declined an on-camera interview, said he was "paranoid" and "did not want to be on the bus."
Despite the attack, the bus driver kept control of the steering wheel and managed to keep the vehicle upright while guiding it across the median, across the westbound lanes and off the road, coming to a stop just feet from oncoming traffic.
Passengers, several of whom tried to help the driver and subdue Morris, said it was terrifying.
"I thought we were all gonna die," Chrissy Sanchez said. She was asleep when it all started. "I woke up to this commotion. I remember hearing screaming. ... I realized we were not on the road anymore."
"He started crying and I knew something was wrong," Gregory Forte said of Morris. "It was bizarre. I hope I never have to go through anything like this ever again."
Three people were air-lifted to St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix. according to DPS. Another 21 people were transported via ground ambulances to West Valley Emergency Center in Buckeye, West Valley Hospital in Goodyear and Banner Estrella Medical Center in West Phoenix.
According to Greyhound, eight of those patients were treated and have already been released.
The bus driver reportedly was not among the people taken to those four hospitals. He remained on the scene with his other passengers and emergency responders.
The uninjured passengers were bused to the Greyhound depot near the airport in Phoenix. At least two infants reportedly were among those passengers.
"We dispatched two relief buses to pick up uninjured customers and have brought them back to Phoenix," Greyhound spokeswoman Alexandra Pedrini told 3TV via email. "Our customer service team is currently working to reschedule all of these customers and get them to their final destinations as quickly as we can. Our primary focus is taking care of our customers and driver at this time."
One woman whose father was on the bus talked to 3TV's Tess Rafols at the depot.
"He just said that they were off-roading," she said. "The bus just went off the road. ... One of the people in the very front had told him that someone had attacked the driver."
According to Cook, Morris, who was taken to Maricopa Medical Center, is facing 48 counts of felony endangerment, 24 counts of assault and three counts of aggravated assault. Additional charges could be forthcoming.
It's not clear if Morris has a history of instability. At this point, investigators are not releasing any information about him or what might have prompted his alleged actions on that Greyhound bus Thursday morning.
According to Greyhound, the bus left L.A. at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday with 41 passengers aboard. It was due to arrive in Phoenix at 2:30 a.m. Thursday.
Gipson said the company "will continue cooperating fully with the authorities' needs."
3TV requested an interview with the bus driver, but Pedrini said that is not possible right now because the investigation is ongoing.
Another passenger says, "suspect was beating bus driver hard in the face and head" - all other passengers ran to help subdue him @azfamily— Jill Galus (@JillGalus) January 23, 2014
Girlfriend of man who attacked driver says he was "not in his right state of mind...felt paranoid...and did not want to be on bus" @azfamily— Jill Galus (@JillGalus) January 23, 2014