Pa. school stabbing victim says friend saved his life
The 16-year-old was stabbed in the back, and another student applied pressure to his wound until paramedics arrived
By Torsten Ove
MURRYSVILLE, Pa. — A Franklin Regional High School student stabbed in the back Wednesday by a knife-wielding classmate said today that the assault was a blur but that his friend, Gracey Evans, saved him by applying pressure to his wound until paramedics arrived.
"What was going through my mind?" Brett Hurt said at a news conference at Forbes Hospital in Monroeville. "Will I survive or will I die? Gracey saved my life."
Brett, a 16-year-old sophomore, appeared with his mother, Amanda Leonard, and the medical staff at Forbes, where he and six of his classmates are being treated after a rampage that left more than 20 wounded. The three most seriously injured, all with penetrating stab wounds that damaged vital organs, remain in the intensive care unit. Two are on ventilators and will have additional surgery today.
Four others less seriously injured also remained at the hospital. Dr. Christoph Kaufmann, chief trauma surgeon, said two of those patients may go home today.
Sitting in a wheelchair before the cameras, Brett said he and Gracey Evans, a junior, were clowning around in the hall before classes as they usually do when a student that police identified as Alex Hribal suddenly began stabbing students with two kitchen knives.
The suspect, a 16-year-old sophomore, is charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault and weapon possession. He is being held without bond at the Westmoreland County Juvenile Detention Center.
Brett said he was among the first to be stabbed. Gracey credited Brett with shielding her from Alex by pushing her out of the way, although Brett said he remembered little of what happened.
"I remember messing around with Gracey, then getting hit in the back," he said. "That's when everything went straight into chaos. ... I didn't even know what was going on.
He said Gracey, who visited Brett twice Wednesday at the hospital, applied pressure to his back and slowed the bleeding.
"I'm proud of her as much as I'm proud of my own son," said Ms. Leonard. "There is nothing in the world I can do for that girl that can thank her enough for what she has done."
She also implored parents, students and school officials to pay attention to the signs of bullying and mental illness among students.
"What have we done to alienate this child?" she said of Alex. "I hope this child can find some peace."
Police anticipate a time-consuming investigation of the events leading to the stabbings of 21 students and a security guard at the high school, Murrysville police chief Thomas Seefeld said this morning.
During a news conference at 6 a.m, outside the high school, Chief Seefeld, joined by Westmoreland County emergency management spokesman Dan Stevens and Franklin Regional schools Superintendent Gennaro Piraino, said all evidence had been removed from the corridor of the high school where the stabbings occurred.
"The crime scene has been processed and now witnesses and victims will be interviewed," the chief said. "Our investigation will be lengthy."
The chief, asked about the victims of the knife attack, said he had been told that one student had to be taken back to surgery at about 1 a.m. today. He didn't identify the person or the hospital where the person is being treated.
The chief also said investigators had not determined a motive for the stabbing and slashing rampage.
Asked about security at the senior high school, Chief Seefeld said, "The school district has a good security plan. As tragic as this was, it could have been worse."
Mr. Piraino said the high school would remain closed until Monday. He said a restoration company would be hired to clean the corridor where the attacks occurred.
Mr. Piraino also said counseling would be offered to students and staff, starting immediately, at the Murrysville Alliance Church, 4130 Old William Penn Highway, and continuing Monday at the high school after it reopens.
Pressed about reports of bullying at the high school, Mr. Piraino said that was part of the investigation but would not comment further.