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A frightful bus ride that was supposed to be a short jaunt from a downtown Long Beach parking lot to the Queen Mary’s “Dark Harbor” event wound up in Carson instead.

The incident wasn’t an attempted kidnapping – as at least some panicked passengers on board feared – but the result of a driver getting lost, police said on Friday.

The 60-year-old driver, who lives in Los Angeles, left the parking structure at The Pike with 20 to 30 revelers headed to the annual Halloween attraction at about 7:30 p.m. Thursday, when he became disoriented by street closures and missed his destination, police said.

As the bus drove through Carson, passengers started getting worried that they were being kidnapped and one of them confronted the driver, police said.

“Patrons began exiting the bus through various emergency exits while stopped at a traffic light,” said Officer Alvino Herrera, a Long Beach police spokesman. “We understand how this situation evolved into fear. … However, through their investigation, detectives learned the driver was simply lost.”

The driver pulled into a gas station at Central Avenue and Del Amo Boulevard in Carson, and sheriff’s deputies detained him until Long Beach police arrived to question him, Herrera said. Someone had called police.

A passenger signed a private-person arrest for the driver for suspicion of battery, police said. Police did not detail the confrontation, but did say the driver had previously had a disagreement when the passenger tried to bring an open container of alcohol aboard.

The driver was released pending an investigation.

One passenger, identified by KABC-TV as Brian Corbitt, told the station that the driver “nailed” him in the stomach, knocking him back into a seat.

“I told him straight up, I’m like, ‘Listen, at this point it’s kidnapping, you can’t hold us like this,’ ” Corbitt told the station.

Corbitt declined to speak with a reporter Friday morning, saying he needed to consult his attorney. It is unclear if he was the passenger who filed the private-person arrest form.

The shuttle bus was run by a private contractor.

Lee Piatelli, of San Pedro, said he was so unnerved by the ride he’s considering getting a lawyer, too. The driver was still moving the bus as Piatelli and others jumped out of the windows, he said.

“When you’re trying to drive a bus and people are trying to get off, that’s (expletive). Somebody’s going to get run over and get hurt,” Piatelli said.

If the driver was lost, he should have said so and pulled over, Piatelli said. Instead, the driver ignored everyone who was frantically asking what was going on, he said.

“We all started freaking out,” he said. “All we wanted was one more night of Halloween, and we got the bus ride from hell.”

Piatelli said he never saw an altercation on the bus over alcohol.

“His job is to get us from point A to point B and he took us to point outer space,” he said.

Piatelli’s group, he said, never made it to the event.

In a statement, a representative for the Queen Mary said, “The safety and security of our guests are paramount. We are working with all parties involved to learn more about the incident with this vendor, and will provide updates as more information develops.”



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