EDMONTON — A savage attack on an Edmonton transit bus has left the driver with a shattered face, school children seeking counselling and a man charged with attempted murder.
The 58-year-old driver was recovering in hospital from repeated blows suffered as he was wedged between his bus and a curb on Thursday morning.
“It was absolutely horrible to see what (the attacker) had done,” said a sobbing Katie Bain, 22, who was sitting near the front of the bus.
“There’s no words to describe what (the driver) looked like afterward, no words.”
Bain said the attack came as the bus was almost full, packed with girls headed to school about 7:30 a.m.
Gary Edwin Mattson, 24, has been charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and assaulting a peace officer by spitting on him.
She heard a thumping on the side of the bus and saw a man running, trying to get on after the bus pulled away.
“The driver let the guy on, but he said he didn’t have enough money,” said Bain.
Fellow passenger Sean Emerson, 26, said he’d seen the same man hanging around a local mini-mall, begging for change.
“The look in that guy’s eyes … I can’t describe. it was scary. It was like looking into the eyes of someone who didn’t have a soul,” he said.
Police said the man looked intoxicated at the time of the attack.
However, Bain said the man was not slurring his words.
“He said, ‘I have to get home, I have to get home.’ He started cursing.” said Bain.
Just metres down the road, the driver stopped and told the belligerent man to “get off my bus,” said Bain.
“Then, all of a sudden his fists were in (the driver’s) face,” she said.
The attacker picked the grey-haired driver up by the collar and tossed him out of the bus.
The driver fell between the bus door and the curb.
Then the boots swung, crashing directly into the driver’s face.
“To do so as much damage as he did, he must have kicked him 15, 20 times,” said Bain.
Even though there were men riding the bus, Bain and Emerson said it happened too quickly for them to react.
“It would’ve taken a lot of us (to take down the attacker), and I don’t think we could’ve done it without getting hurt,” said Emerson. “Oh, God, I wish we could’ve helped him.”
Blood from the driver’s face and head pooled outside the bus door, and splattered on the doors and bumper.
“His face was basically completely caved in,” said Emerson. “It has to be one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Students riding to nearby John D Bracco Junior High received counselling Thursday, said a school official.