Nightmare bus ride in Manitoba
Northern News Services
Published Monday, August 18, 2008
Stephen Allison and his wife, both 19, were aboard the Greyhound bus on which a passenger was stabbed and beheaded on July 30 near Portage la Prairie. They were right across the aisle.
"It's just one of those things that you don't even believe it happened unless you saw it with your own eyes," Stephen Allison said.
Allison saw everything as it unfolded, he said, including the attacker taking out what looked like a hunting knife with a six-inch blade.
"He unsheathed it and looked at me," Allison said, noting everything happened in a few seconds. "I thought my time was over."
Instead, the attacker turned to his left and a man sleeping with headphones on.
"He was completely unaware of what was going on," Allison said of the victim, identified by police as Timothy Richard McLean, 22, of Winnipeg.
Allison said once the attack began, McLean jumped over his assailant and into the aisle where the stabbing continued.
"He was fighting back," Allison said. "Thanks to what Mr. McLean did, he got us enough time to get off the bus."
An Edmonton man, Vince Weiguang Li, 40, has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with McLean's death.
The attacker) "did look really suspicious, but I've travelled on a bus so much I didn't think much of it," Allison said. "He was looking at everyone while he was walking down the aisle." The man sat next to McLean for a couple of hours - occasionally rocking and chanting - until he attacked.
"I didn't hear either of them say anything," Allison said.
To him, it looked like a completely random, unprovoked attack. Allison ran to the front of the bus, yelling for the driver to stop and for everyone to get off the vehicle. "During that whole time, he was attacking him," he said.
Allison said the evacuation of the other 35 people on the bus took about 10 seconds. He said he doesn't believe other passengers could have saved McLean, explaining the attack was too sudden.
"By the time people realized what was going on, it was too late," he said.
Allison also noted other passengers would have had to fight the armed attacker.
"You've got your bare hands and this guy has got a knife," he said. "Who's going to win? It's fairly obvious."
Once off the vehicle, Allison saw the attacker walk through the bus carrying the victim's head by the hair.
"That's not something you want to ever see," he said. "I was in a state of shock."
Allison said, since witnessing the incident, he and his wife have had trouble sleeping. "We used to both love travelling, but we don't like travelling anymore," he said, adding they now avoid buses, crowds and confined spaces.
"It's probably going to be a long time before we get over this," he added.
Allison doubts if they will ever travel on a bus again.
At the time of the attack, the couple was travelling to Kenora, Ont. Allison has lived in Fort Smith for about two years and his wife for a year.
Allison's mother, Jayne Murray, first heard about what happened on the Greyhound bus when her son called at about 2 a.m. from a Brandon hotel. She said "It took me a few minutes to realize what he was saying. At first, it just seemed too unreal."