Bus passenger says she reported bomb threat, but driver kept on going

Denver Bomb Squad

DENVER — A passenger on board an RTD bus says a driver continued driving his regular route, even after a bomb threat was reported on the bus.

Sara Lopez ended up calling 911 and she is demanding action.

She says she watched as a seemingly intoxicated passenger got on the bus the evening of June 16 at Colorado Boulevard near East 9th Avenue. She says he placed his backpack at the front, and then came to the back to sit down.

When asked about the odd circumstance, Lopez says the man, 55-year-old Orest Serwas, made a serious threat.

“The guy said he had a bomb or an explosive device in his backpack and that if it moved it’s going to blow up, blow up the bus,” Lopez says. “So immediately we went up to the bus driver. Told him. [He] didn’t do anything. Shrugged his shoulders. We got off the bus at about Exposition and Colorado, he just kept driving.”

The bus went some distance before stopping at the Colorado Station near East Evans Avenue and South Colorado Boulevard. Police evacuated the station, nearby Dave and Busters and a movie theater. The bomb squad was brought in to check out the backpack.

A map shows the bus traveled about two miles – a 15-minute drive – away from where Lopez and her partner first reported the incident to the driver.

“I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked. When you call RTD, they say if you see something suspicious, make sure that you tell us. We did everything they told us to do and they didn’t do anything.”

Police records indicate it was Lopez who tipped off the bomb squad with a 911 call, not the bus driver.

An RTD spokesperson says, “It appears the bus operator did respond appropriately.” But the spokesperson declined to answer questions about possible delays in reporting the scare. That angers Lopez.

“Those are our lives,” she says. “How dare you not do anything about it when you hear something so serious like that. How dare you.”

Serwas did not have a bomb in the backpack. The bomb squad gave the all clear for the bus and the scene quickly. But Serwas still went to jail, charged with two felony counts of endangering public transportation.

RTD confirmed that Serwas was banned from riding the bus due to previous behavior issues, but the driver had no way of knowing that.