Woman in wheelchair claims IndyGo bus driver humiliated her

Consumer Reports
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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 14, 2016) - An Indianapolis woman claims she was discriminated against and humiliated by an IndyGo bus driver over a major misunderstanding that should've never happened.

LaVada Spencer uses a wheelchair when she goes out, because her Neuropathy makes her a fall risk and she has had trouble walking long distances after suffering a stroke.

Last month, she went on a grocery shopping trip to the Walmart near 86th and Michigan. On her way back home, she got on board the 86th Street IndyGo bus in her wheelchair, when she says the driver abruptly shut the bus down and made everyone get off.

Spencer says the driver told passengers another bus was on its way to pick them up, but when the second and a third bus came, she wasn't allowed to get on. She was told she would have to wait for a supervisor. So she did. Spencer says she waited in her wheelchair out in the cold for two hours.

“I said, 'What is the problem?' You know. 'Why can I not get on the bus?'”

She says the bus driver finally answered and the reason shocked and humiliated her.

“'You urinated on yourself,'” Spencer recalled the bus driver telling her.

Spencer says what had actually happened was that she had taken a drink of water from her water bottle right before boarding the bus and had spilled some on herself.

“The water ran down my coat, a little on this chair, but it was dripping on the bottom right here,” she said as she sat in her wheelchair.

When she tried to explain that to the bus driver, Spencer says the driver made her get up and turn around to show her the back of her pants in front of everyone.

"When she made me do that I just felt so out of myself that somebody could do that to somebody," she said crying. "Everybody in a wheelchair is not incontinent.”

She says even when the supervisor arrived, she was told she still would not be allowed on board.

She says it wasn't until she begged and pleaded with the supervisor that she had no other way home, that the supervisor finally let her on the same bus she was originally removed from and she went home.

Spencer couldn't hold back her tears as she told us how the whole ordeal made her feel.

"I was humiliated. I was embarrassed," she said. "He gave me such a hard time, but that was that my only transportation home. And what really hurt me was that it was water. It was not urine.”

Spencer says she complained to IndyGo, but never heard back. So FOX59 took action and reached out to an IndyGo spokesman. We told him Spencer's story and gave him the bus driver's badge number. We were told the IndyGo customer service team was looking into it and received the following statement:

IndyGo takes the safety of our passengers very seriously. It is IndyGo policy to limit passenger exposure to potentially hazardous bio-material. To that end, a replacement bus was dispatched and the passenger was not allowed to board in accordance with IndyGo procedures. However, removing the customer from the bus in this circumstance does not meet our standard operating procedures.

The supervisor dispatched to the incident did ensure that the passenger was not stranded. The passenger was given a ride home on the bus that was being taken back to the garage for cleaning.

When the customer filed a complaint with IndyGo, regretfully, a call back was overlooked due to a misinterpretation of the notes in the file. Furthermore, the actions of the operator reported in this complaint do not meet IndyGo's expectations of appropriate employee behavior. Members of our team will be following up with the customer directly for additional details and the employees involved in this incident will be debriefed and retrained.

Spencer says the misunderstanding should have never happened.

"That's an assumption that she made on her own. She didn't ask me. She didn't bother to further investigate it. She just came to that conclusion," said Spencer. "I just want something to help the disability people. I don't want them to go through that."

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