'I could have been dead today,' says bus driver who was stabbed

PORTLAND, Ore. - As police continue searching for the man who stabbed a TriMet bus driver, TriMet is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of that suspect.

TriMet has stepped up security for its drivers just outside an employee break room near the bus stop under the Interstate 205 overpass where Fadi Hamad, 40, was stabbed. There are security guards on duty at the site and also not far from where another TriMet bus driver was stabbed about a month ago. According to TriMet, the guards will be on duty 24/7 for now.

Hamad was stabbed Wednesday afternoon and was released from the hospital. But his family said he had to go back there Thursday. He's expected to recover from his wounds.

He was stabbed in the neck, just inches from an artery, and then in the stomach.

"I'm lucky to be alive," he said Thursday. "I could have been dead today."

A transient with an unusual checkerboard tattoo on his neck confronted Hamad who was using the TriMet bathroom at the bus stop and then stabbed him.

"It didn't puncture my intestine the knife, or whatever you call it, went in the brace. And the other half went in my stomach," he said.

The man might have kept stabbing except for that back brace Hamad was wearing. The man suddenly struggled with the knife instead of being able to continue stabbing.

"He couldn't get it out anymore," Hamad said. "I'm laughing about it now but, you know what, God was watching over me."

So was a fellow TriMet bus driver. Hamad said driver Emanuel Jenkinson had parked four buses back and ran to help. He then called 9-1-1.

"He saved my life. I mean, first God did, but then Emanuel Jenkinson. I owe my life to him. He saved me," Hamad said.

The suspect may have come from a nearby homeless camp along I-205, which has been tied to a lot of neighborhood problems recently.

"We definitely need to have something done," said TriMet spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt. "We are definitely going to the table. We want to be a part of it. We want to make sure this is safe for our operators and our riders."

TriMet said part of the problem is it doesn't control enforcement at the site where the homeless camp is. The agency hopes the neighborhood association, police and ODOT can come up with a plan to deal with the campsite more quickly than the enforcement up to this point.

Meanwhile, TriMet said it will do whatever it has to, to make sure the stops are as safe as possible for everyone despite the homeless camp nearby.

Hamad hopes something's done to deal with the transient camp.

As for the man who stabbed him?

"Of course I do hope, you know, they catch this guy. I mean, it's easy. I mean I would pick this guy out of a million persons," he said.