Stabbing victim, 16, says friend 'saved my life'
MONROEVILLE, Pa. - Stabbed in the back by a knife-wielding classmate rampaging through his high school Wednesday, Pittsburgh-area sophomore Brett Hurt said "it was all kind of like a blur."
The first of the 22 victims to give a media interview, the 16-year-old appeared Thursday in a wheelchair at a packed news conference at Forbes Hospital in Monroeville, joined by his mother and the top medical staff.
"I think all of us who got injured in the accident need time to cope," he said. "We're all lucky to still be alive. Even the people that are in critical right now, they're lucky. We're pretty much blessed."
He said the incident happened too quickly to recall much. Alex Hribal, 16, a sophomore at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, has been arrested and charged as the attacker.
"Only thing I remember is messing around with Gracey [Evans] and like bumping her out of the way" as the two were "goofing off" before classes, he said.
"Next thing I know the kid runs by and hits me in the back, and that's when everything went into straight chaos. When I got hit, everyone ran in different directions. Gracey was screaming and asking if I was all right."
He said Evans, a junior, applied pressure to his wound until paramedics arrived. Doctors said her actions helped save Hurt.
"What was going through my mind?" he asked. " 'Will I survive or will I die?' Gracey saved my life."
Hurt was among seven students being treated at Forbes.
The three most seriously injured, each with a stab wound that damaged vital organs, remained in the intensive care unit. Two of them are on ventilators and were to return to surgery Thursday.
Four others who were less seriously injured also remained at the hospital. Christoph Kaufmann, chief trauma surgeon, said two were set to go home Thursday. The other two likely will go home over the weekend.
Kaufmann said the crisis occurred at an "opportune time," during a shift change, so a surplus staff of 20 doctors and 40 nurses was on hand.
Other badly hurt victims were being treated Thursday at different hospitals.
A 17-year-old boy at UPMC Presbyterian, stabbed through the liver among other wounds, underwent a second round of surgery overnight and likely will have surgery again.
He was intubated but responsive and remained in critical condition in the intensive care unit.
At Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, a 14-year-old boy and a 17-year-old boy, both with stab wounds to the right chest, were listed in fair condition.
At Forbes, Hurt said he was among the first to be stabbed.
In local and national media appearances Wednesday, Evans credited him with shielding her from Hribal. Hurt said he was taken by surprise, however, and struck from behind.
"I didn't even know what was going on," he said.
He said Evans applied pressure to his back and slowed the bleeding.
Paramedics then took over.
Hurt's mother, Amanda Leonard, said Evans visited her son at the hospital twice on Wednesday and finally had to be shooed away because she didn't want to leave his side.
"I'm proud of her as much as I'm proud of my own son," Leonard said. "I've already hugged her, I've kissed her, I have told her 'thank you,' and there is nothing in the world I can do for that girl that can thank her enough for what she has done."
She said that when her daughter, who was in the school library at the time of the incident, called her to say Hurt was on the list of victims, "I dropped."
"I don't think any parent in the world would ever want to go through that kind of agony, and for all of the students' parents who are in the hospital with their children right now, I send my condolences and I understand your pain."
She also implored parents, students, and school officials to pay attention to the signs of troubled children and reach out to students who have difficulty coping with modern life.
"What have we done to alienate this child?" she said of Hribal. "I hope this child can find some peace."