Exclusive: Stabbed bus driver speaks out

October 24, 2011 2:22:08 PM PDT
In an Eyewitness News exclusive, a New Jersey Transit bus driver is recovering from multiple stab wounds is speaking out.

From his bed the 42-year-old spoke for the first time since being stabbed several times while he behind the wheel and he wants New Jersey Transit to take extra precautions to keep drivers safe.

The driver picked up the suspect at the Irvington Bus Terminal at around 8:30 Saturday night.

Ihab Abounaja told Eyewitness News' Jen Maxfield about he waved the man on, even though he didn't have money for the fare. The man repaid the driver's kindness by stabbing him 7 times.

Abounaja sobbed as he looks at the bloodied NJ Transit shirt he was wearing during the stabbing.

"All I felt was a sharp pain on my neck, this is the first stab, right here in my neck," he said.

That stab wound just missed Abounaja's jugular vein. Abounaja had just opened the doors for passengers to get out on Hawthorne Avenue in Newark when police say 26-year old Maurice Young came at him with a knife. The vicious attack was completely unprovoked.

"I said what are you doing, I have 3 kids, I didn't do anything to you? This anger he had in his face, like he was going to kill me," adds Abounaja.

Abounaja explained how he was stabbed 4 times in the arms, and in the neck, chest and head. His 12 passengers ran out the back door, where he was finally able to escape as well.

"Nobody was there to help me, I was left alone on that bus to die," he adds.

Fighting back severe pain, Abounaja agreed to be interviewed today because he wants his near-death experience to serve as an example of why he says NJ Transit bus drivers need plexiglass partitions.

"There was nothing to protect me as a human being from harm. If there was a plexiglass to protect me, that's all I ask for," adds Abounaja.

A New Jersey Transit spokesperson says they are currently testing security gates to see if they can be added to their buses.