‘Traumatic event:’ Edmonton bus driver stabbed up to 13 times, teen arrested
By The Canadian Press
EDMONTON – The head of a local transit union says an Edmonton bus driver was stabbed up to 13 times after he refused a ride to a passenger.
The 65-year old driver was taken to hospital with multiple injuries in the overnight attack that happened at the southeast Mill Woods Transit Centre.
Mark Tetterington, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569, said it happened around 3:40 a.m. Wednesday.
“The operator was about to go out of service and a youth approached him before he went out of service to ask if he could get a ride downtown,” he said. “The operator followed proper procedure and phoned control. Control advised the operator they would send a peace officer out to accommodate the patron and give him a ride downtown.
“The youth did not like the response and, as the operator was getting off the bus, the youth attacked him and he stabbed him up to 13 times with a knife.”
Investigators said the driver managed to get away and call for help. When police arrived, the youth was in the driver’s seat trying to put the vehicle in gear and escape.
The boy, who is 15, was arrested at the scene, but there’s been no word on charges. Tetterington said the driver, who’s been with Edmonton transit for six years, was stabbed twice in the neck and several times in the groin.
“It could have been a lot worse, but fortunately he’s about to be released or he has been released from hospital,” he said. “Physically, I’m hoping he’s going to have a full recovery but mentally … we have to worry about PTSD. It’s such a traumatic event.”
Some operators haven’t able to get back into the driver’s seat after dealing with similar attacks, said John Di Nino, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Canada.
“We’re hugely concerned for the operator’s well-being, other than the superficial wounds,” he said.
An Edmonton Transit Service report shows there have already been 40 operator assaults from January to July this year, up from 29 for all of 2017.
Di Nino said assaults on transit drivers have become an issue across the country.
“We’re seeing upwards of an assault a day on operators across Canada,” he said. “This is a huge problem.”
Both he and Tetterington said more must be done to protect drivers such as installing safety barriers, providing specialized training and increasing the number of officers patrolling the transit systems.