Customers of shuttered bus company worried they may never be repaid

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Weeks after an Indianapolis-based bus company abruptly shut its doors, groups that lost thousands of dollars worry they may never get their money back.

Cavallo Bus Lines, a company with terminals in Illinois, Indianapolis, and St. Louis, shut down three weeks ago with very little warning. The company is now in liquidation.

After FOX59 spoke to a group of church members who said they found out just days before their weekend trip that the company couldn't transport them, other groups began to come forward. All of the groups said they paid their full bills in July and did not receive their money back. Instead, many had to scramble to find new bus companies and shell out additional money to save their trips.

Helen Henderson, 90, said that her group of Red Hat Society women ended up cancelling their trip to the casino. They are now out $1,100 that came from their charity's funds.

"(The company said), 'We’re not going to be able to take your group because ... the bank said they couldn’t move any buses,'" Henderson said.

Maria Butler, a travel agent who booked a two-day weekend trip for her aunt Christy Harrington, Kimeron Stewart, and 200 people, had to pay $4,700 out of pocket to a new bus company after receiving less than 24 hours notice from Cavallo.

"We calculated, it was about $15,000 that we would’ve been out of if we had cancelled and just said forget the buses, so it was cheaper to just go ahead and go," Butler said.

"I don’t have $5,000, we’re retired, we’re doing this for entertainment purposes," Stewart said.

According to documents Butler received, Cavallo has hired a company to liquidate its assets and pay back creditors. The documents indicate that the company owes $11 million more than it has in assets, though.

Henderson said a representative told her she might not get her money back, and an attorney told Butler the same thing.

"We are just probably some of the ones that have come forward, but I’m sure there’s others," Butler said.

Cavallo and the company it hired did not return a request for comment Friday.

As for the groups, Harrington and Stewart will be putting on another trip in September and then a dinner fundraiser in October to try to recoup the money for Butler.

"It’s called 'A Wing and a Prayer' because that’s what we’re on, a wing and a prayer to get her money back," Harrington said.

Henderson and her fellow group member Opal Hood said they want to contact attorneys to try to recoup their money, and the ordeal has made them think twice about the companies they hire for trips.

"I said I tell you what, I’m going to fight to get it back," Henderson said.

"I’ve never run into this. It takes your faith away from people," Hood said.