Mistaken identity blamed for Special Olympian's hours-long bus ride

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) - It was supposed to be a normal ride home for John Field, 26, as he left his job at UNLV earlier this month but it turned out to be an hours-long bus ride which brought him miles away from where he lives.

Field has Autism and the mental aptitude of a sixth-grader, according to his dad, Stephen Brewer. Field's job washing dishes in the dining commons at UNLV offers him independence and an opportunity to socialize.

John also loves to bowl. In fact, he is a 9-time Special Olympics gold medalist.

His all-time high score is 224.

But despite his achievements, John struggles to advocate and speak up for himself, his dad says. 

It makes what happened to him even more alarming for his family.

"We got a text message saying the bus has arrived, so we figured he got on the bus," explained Brewer.

Brewer says everything appeared to be fine with his son and the Paratransit bus on November 4, but a series of conflicting text messages sent by the automated Paratransit bus company made him realize something was not right.


"We called [John] about an hour later we asked him where he was, he said he was at Lake Mead and Rock Springs," said Brewer.

Brewer says his son was more than 15 miles from his home, near Lake Mead and US 95.
John eventually arrived home 3 hours later.


"I'll tell you why it's not acceptable, because about a year ago they brought another handicap person to my house," said Brewer.

In October 2016, Brewer says his son was stranded at bus stop following another miscue that brought a complete stranger to his doorstep.

After that incident, Brewer said he complained and the RTC promised reforms and changes.
"We worry about his safety when something like this happens, and I know if it's happening to him, it has got to be happening to other people," said Brewer.

An RTC spokesperson released a statement regarding the most recent incident:

In short, we have two customers named "John" with similar-sounding last names who are picked up in the afternoons at the same time and location. However, their respective destinations are in opposite directions. When the driver came to pick up Mr. Field, the other "John" boarded. The driver left the pick-up location but then quickly realized the wrong passenger had boarded. He notified dispatch, and the text notification system alerted Mr. Field's father twice that his son was being picked up.

 

Transdev has transported Mr. Field 453 times safely in the past year without incident and is working on additional safeguards to prevent this from occurring again.

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