Girl receives help after feeling threatened by stranger on city bus

A strong message for anyone who rides TheBus — be on alert.

The parents of a girl tell us a man started talking to their daughter Thursday afternoon while she was on a city bus and followed her when she got off in Chinatown.

The girl was riding the Pearl City 54 bus on Liliha Street when a man approached her. The girl’s mother, who didn’t want to be identified, said “he told her he was going to get off the bus with her and that he would follow her.”

The mother said her daughter had never met the man before. She said her daughter described the man to be in his 50s-60s with a salt-and-pepper hair and a beard. He was wearing a white T-shirt and jeans, and had a backpack and red luggage with him.

The man followed the girl to the intersection of North King and Dillingham, where she walked into a nearby Jiffy Lube in tears, crying for help.

Joanne Bermitanio was there and said employees gave the girl a phone so she could call her parents because hers wasn’t working.

“She was bawling,” said Bermitanio. “We saw the guy and he ended up disappearing somewhere. … That would be like my little sister, you know, I would be scared for her.”

KHON2 learned that 90 percent of city buses have surveillance cameras.

Roger Morton, president and general manager of TheBus, said they are aware of this case and are checking to see if they have surveillance video of the incident. He said “it’s rare that someone would be followed off the bus.”

According to Morton, if a passenger is bothering you, or something just doesn’t feel right, you can always walk up to the bus driver and let them know that you need help. “Our bus drivers are trained to try to keep our passengers as safe as possible.”

TheBus, in conjunction with the Honolulu Police Dept., also has a mobile watch program that anyone can use if you need help while you are on the street. People seeking immediate refuge from physical abuse can get on TheBus for free.

In the meantime, the girl’s mother says her daughter is still shaken, but is doing fine. She said she’s grateful to the shop employees that kept her safe, as well as being proud of the decision her daughter made under such circumstances.

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