New Orleans, LA Truck Hits Bus, June 1976


New Orleans (UPI) - A man hijacked a city bus at the end of its run, raped the woman driver and escaped by accepting a ride from a tow truck driver. The shaken bus driver tried to make a U-turn on an interstate highway and was struck broadside by a watermelon truck.
The driver of the watermelon truck was killed in the crash Thursday, but the bus driver was not injured.
The wreck spread hundreds of broken watermelons across the inbound lanes of the freeway, and tank trucks had to be called to clear the area of swarms of mosquitos.
Police said the incident began in the early morning hours as the bus driver sat alone in the bus after reaching the end of her run. The driver, who was not identified, related the story this way:
A man boarded the bus and forced her to drive at gunpoint to a secluded spot in the eastern end of the city. He then threatened to kill her and told her to drive toward Interstate 10.
The bus driver, who had become disoriented, began driving the wrong way down the interstate highway. Apparently neither she nor the hijacker noticed they were going the wrong way.
After a short drive, the man forced her to pull onto the shoulder of the road, where he raped her.
A passing tow truck driver, thinking the parked bus was broken down offered to tow it into town. The man declined a tow, but took a ride into town in the tow truck.
After the man left, the driver attempted to make a U-turn on the Interstate to return to town. The bus was struck broadside by the watermelon truck.
Truck driver JAMES M. PIZZATTI, 33, of Fairhope, Ala., was killed in the crash. Rescuers had to work for several hours to free his body from the wreckage.

Greeley Daily Tribune Colorado 1976-06-25