Two arrested, accused of trying to hijack Greyhound bus in Utah

By Catherine S. Blake, Associated Press Writer
Friday October 19, 2001

SALT LAKE CITY — Passengers aboard a Greyhound bus left their seats and overpowered a man who allegedly tried to take control and flip the vehicle after ranting about hijackings, authorities said Thursday. 

No one was injured in Wednesday night’s incident and the driver was able to pull safely to the side of Interstate 80. There were 44 passengers aboard the bus bound from Portland, Ore., to Nashville, Tenn. 

The man and a female accomplice ran off the bus, flagged down a car and later fled to the truck stop where they were arrested several hours later, Highway Patrol spokesman Doug McCleve said. 

Troy Matzek, 34, and Becky Hyde, 25, of Wichita, Kan., were charged Thursday in federal court with carjacking and aiding and abetting. They face a possible maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. They were scheduled to appear Friday before U.S. Magistrate Samuel Alba. 

Authorities said they believed the couple was not acting as part of a terrorist plot. 

“This is probably a person who is mentally unstable,” McCleve said. 

Rose Matzek said her son thought someone was after him. After talking to him by phone after his arrest, she said he had been affected by the terrorist attacks and might have had an emotional breakdown on the bus. 

“He called a couple of days ago. He wanted to come home,” she said. “He was very fearful. He was a little paranoid about what has happened.” 

Bus driver Gene Savage told KUTV television that Matzek grabbed the steering wheel and said he was going to flip the bus. He had been ranting about hijackings. 

The driver kicked Matzek away and several passengers wrestled with the man as Savage stopped the bus about 15 miles east of Salt Lake City, McCleve said. 

“People aren’t as tolerant about this kind of thing anymore,” said Paul Warner, the U.S. Attorney for Utah. 

After flagging down the passing car, the couple told the car’s driver that people on the bus were trying to kill them, McCleve said. 

The driver took the couple to a gas station and gave them money. The couple then jumped into a tractor-trailer which drove them to Salt Lake City. The driver called 911 while the couple were outside the cab. 

It was not clear if Matzek had a weapon, though some of the passengers said he had threatened them with a bomb, McCleve said. A check of the bus turned up no explosives. 

Earlier this month, a Croatian man slashed the neck of a Greyhound bus driver in Tennessee, causing a crash that killed seven passengers.