PHOENIX -- The Arizona Department of Public Safety is now investigating a tour bus that broke down on Interstate 17 in Phoenix Thursday afternoon, stranding a group of seniors in the heat.
The Liberty Charters bus was on its way back to San Antonio from Las Vegas when it began having mechanical issues, DPS Officer Carrick Cook says. The bus was carrying 30 passengers, most of them seniors, returning from a week-long tour across the Southwest.
While the bus sat in a gravel field just off the Durango curve waiting to be fixed, passengers sat without air conditioning and began complaining of heat-related illnesses.
The Phoenix Fire Department brought in its mobile crisis unit and a city bus to provide the group with water, medical evaluations and a cooler place to wait.
According to passengers, the air conditioning on the bus wasn't working for the majority of the trip. They claim the bus had other issues prior to the mechanical problems. Joe Vargas says he asked the tour company to get them a new bus, but the tour company refused.
DPS has now launched a criminal investigation into why the bus broke down and whether the bus was authorized to be on the road in the first place.
A search of the bus company's Department of Transportation registration and licensing numbers revealed a history of problems. Cook says Liberty Charters does not appear to have been authorized to operate.
The tour company that chartered the bus will now have to charter a bus from a different company to get the passengers home, Cook says.