Thursday, March 09, 2006

Witness comes forward...

'I'm not going to jump in'
Teen passenger on death bus defends fellow riders

An eyewitness to last Thursday's fatal beating on a transit bus in south Edmonton says he and the other passengers have been unfairly criticized for not getting involved.

The 19-year-old man, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said while he came to the victim's aid after the four attackers got off the bus, there was no way he was going to jump into the middle of the melee.

"I'm not going to jump in. I'm the only male (passenger) on the bus," said the teen witness, who weighs 165 pounds at five-foot-nine.

The witness said the other passengers were a 22-year-old woman, two teenage girls, a mother and her son who was about 10 years old.

The passengers have been widely criticized for not trying to intervene in the deadly swarming. But the witness also came to the bus driver's defence, saying he did all he could do by dialling 911.

"He's not allowed to jump in there and start throwing punches," he said.

The witness said he boarded the bus at Mill Woods Town Centre transit terminal
shortly before 9 p.m., along with the four assailants and the would-be victim,
35-year-old Stefan William Conley.

Within about 10 minutes, the group of teens, who were "loud and rowdy" and sitting in the back seat, were asked by the bus driver to quiet down and stop swearing, he said.

But the teens continued to be loud and obnoxious.

Conley, who was also sitting in the back seat, told them to shut up.

The witness said he turned away and looked back after hearing some yelling between Conley and the teens, which soon escalated into shoving and then a full-scale fight.

"The victim grabbed the guy by the neck and held him against the wall," the witness recalled. "One of the guys punched him (the victim) in the side of the head to get him off. That's when they all started beating him. All four guys started punching him. I
didn't see any kicking."

By that time, the driver had stopped the bus in the Edmonton Research Park near 94 Street and 20 Avenue, and called for help. "I just couldn't believe they were fighting," the witness said, estimating the swarming lasted "just under two minutes."

As the four attackers walked off the bus, at least two of them spoke to the driver.

"One of the guys said, 'Sorry about that.' Another guy said, 'The guy's unconscious, you better go check him out,' " the witness recalled, adding the two teen girls "who were freaked out" also exited the bus.

Conley was out cold on his back, bleeding from the mouth and wedged near the footrest between two back seats, said the witness. He and the 22-year-old woman moved Conley to the seat, added the witness.

"He was breathing, but he was choking because there was bubbles coming out of his mouth. I said, 'Are you OK?' And he never answered. ... I held a Kleenex to his face to stop the bleeding," he recalled, adding they waited until police arrived.

I know what you might be thinking because I thought about it for a second. Wil shouldn't have grabbed the guy by the throat. But didn't the bus driver tell the punks to be quiet? Wasn't there a young boy on the bus with his mother? Why were the punks being rowdy and swearing? Doesn't sound like "good people".

They must have pissed Wil off pretty good for him to grab a guy by the throat. For the others to defend their friend, I can see that. But there's a point when kicking a guy repeatedly in the head goes too far--and that would be when they started kicking him in the head in the first place.

"Oh boys will be boys" some may say. There's a difference between a baseball going through someone's window and swearing and being rowdy on a public bus.

But they left him there unconscious and walked away? Is that what teenagers are taught by their parents?

For the bus driver, it's a difficult situation. To leave his post, with punks who could have potentially taken the bus on a joy ride and put the passengers in grave danger.

I'd also like to retract my statement in another blog about how the people there did nothing to stop it, now knowing who was on the bus and the number of people. My apologies. But didn't anybody say anything?

No comments: