OREGON CITY, Ore. -- Four people were taken to the hospital after a man stabbed a TriMet bus driver and 3 passengers Tuesday night.
The suspect was identified Wednesday morning as 19-year-old Austin William Vanhagen of Oregon City. He reportedly boarded the bus at the Oregon City Transit Center and yelled some racial slurs. Passenger John Olechea said about 15 minutes later Vanhagen started punching him in the face, and then went after the driver.
I think he was way wasted . . . way wasted, Olechea said. He couldn't even walk when he got on.
Three passengers tried to help the driver, according to Lt. Bill Kler of the Oregon City police. They held Vanhagen until police arrived and took him into custody. A witness said police used a Taser to subdue him.
The driver passed out after getting off the bus, a witness said. TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch said the driver had surgery early Wednesday morning.
The passengers' conditions were not available. They were conscious and breathing when transported. One of them had five knife wounds in the back, another was knifed five times on the chest, leg and back. One of them was bitten on the shoulder. A fourth person was taken to nearby Willamette Falls hospital.
The entire TriMet family shares their concern for the operator s welfare and for a speedy recovery, Fetsch said in a statement. We also share our concern for the welfare of the passengers that were also wounded in the assault. This is a tragic incident.
A Clackamas County dispatcher said the first call of the incident came from TriMet around 11 p.m. The stabbing was on a Line 33 bus near Molalla Avenue and Clairmont Way, said Lt. Bill Kler of the Oregon City police.
TriMet driver union president Bruce Hansen told KGWthe attack points out how drivers face difficult passengers on a daily basis and that the job can sometimes turn dangerous.
January 2012 Man spits in TriMet driver's face, flees
February 2012 Police: TriMet driver grabbed by throat
April 2012 Man arrested for attacking TriMet passengers
TriMet also issued a statement Wednesday, which explained that surveillance video from inside the bus was given to the police department, as part of the investigation.