The reported hijacking of a passenger bus on Interstate 70, in Putnam County, Friday morning turned out to be a hoax, officers with the Indiana State Police said.
Shortly before 8:30 a.m., dispatchers at the Putnamville Post received a cell phone call from an individual claiming to be following a westbound Greyhound bus from the 47-mile marker, which is near the Putnam-Morgan County line.
The caller, who claimed to be driving a cattle truck, told dispatchers he was listening to his citizens band (CB) radio and overheard the Greyhound driver state that a passenger had a knife to his throat and would not allow him to stop the bus.
Shortly thereafter, the Putnam County Dispatch Center issued its own alert to officers from the sheriff's department. Several officers positioned themselves along the interstate, in an attempt to track down the bus.
Radio traffic during the incident seemed to indicate that officers in Clay County had, in fact, stopped a westbound bus and that the driver reported no problems.
However, Clay County dispatchers and the state police in Terre Haute later told the BannerGraphic that no bus was ever located.
"We're suspecting it to be a hoax," ISP Cpt. George Schneider, of the Putnamville Post, told the BannerGraphic.
Though alarming, Friday's incident was not the first reported in the area in recent days. Schneider said there were two similar reports, which also turned out to be hoaxes, just this week.
Each time, the person has called dispatch to report a similar incident. Unfortunately for investigators trying to rack down leads, the caller, or callers, has used a cell phone each time.
"It would be just about impossible to track them down," Schneider said.
Another reason state police believed Friday's report was false was that there were no phone calls from inside the bus itself.
"If you're on a bus that's being hijacked, you're going to use your cell phone to call 911," Schneider said. "If there had been an actual hijacking, there would have been a flood of calls made to 911."
Schneider added that officers will continue to respond, even though they have reason to believe the call is a hoax. All they have to do is look back to October of 2001 when a passenger on a Greyhound bus in Manchester, Tenn. slit the throat of the bus driver, causing it to crash and kill six people on the bus.
"It's a shame that people are doing this, but we still have an obligation to make sure everyone is safe," he said.