Bus passenger says stabbed driver is well liked

Bus passenger says stabbed driver is well liked

PORTLAND, Ore. – One of the victims during an attack on a TriMet bus driver in Oregon City Tuesday night said the driver tried to protect his passengers.

Andrew Crombie said the bus driver screamed at the suspect, 19-year-old Austin William Vanhagen, to get off the bus and even tried punching him to keep him off.

But Crombie said Vanhagen, who had a knife, was out of control and stabbed the bus driver. That’s when a couple passengers, one of whom was also stabbed, stepped in to protect the bus driver who's become a good friend to them over the years.

"He's one of those people who passengers will greet him with a hug when they get on board," said Crombie who had stepped off the 33 bus line, said goodnight to the driver and started to walk away. But then something went wrong.

"When I was about 20 feet away, I noticed a passenger yelling back into the bus racial slurs at one of the passengers," he said. Crombie then went back to help.

He said Vanhagen couldn't be calmed and started throwing punches. He said the driver tried to punch back, but Vanhagen then pulled out a pocket knife and started swinging.

"The suspect had jumped back on the bus to stab the bus driver. At which point one of the other passengers started to step in as well," Crombie said. "He managed to grab a hold of one of the suspect's arms. I managed to grab the other one and get it pinned around the guardrail."

Crombie said that's when Vanhagen bit him in the shoulder. But Crombie didn't let go until police took Vanhagen down with a Taser.

Crombie said he'd do it again for the driver who doesn't have much family of his own but his work and his passengers whom he cares about so much.

"He loves his job. He says the passengers are the best part of it," Crombie said.

Friends of the driver who visited him at the hospital Wednesday said he’s in a lot of pain from the stab wounds, but in good spirits. A few coworkers said he's like family to them and they're all pitching in to help him take care of his pets and home while he's recovering.

The driver, who has requested that his name not be made public, is in fair condition at a local hospital.

The family of suspect Vanhagen is frustrated because they say they tried to warn authorities he was dangerous and unpredictable.