NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A vicious assault on a New York City bus driver began with an argument over a small dog.
Police said the suspect, a teenaged girl, flew into a rage Tuesday night when her pet was barred from the bus at a stop in the Fordham section of the Bronx, reports CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.
“She dragged me from my hair, my nose is broken, and my eyes – I can’t even see right,” bus driver Marlene Bien-Aime said.
Battered and bruised, Bien-Aime relived the terrifying moments when she was pulled from behind the wheel of her bus and pummeled so viciously that she wound up in the hospital.
“I was caught by surprise,” she said.
Bien-Aime said that at first, she thought nothing of the 17-year-old suspect holding a tiny dog, described as a Chihuahua, inside her jacket. When she told the girl that the dog would not be allowed on the bus without a carrier or cage, the suspect allegedly flew into a rage.
“After she hit me in the eye, I took the seatbelt off and she’s still coming at me,” Bien-Aime said.
After she was pulled down the stairs and onto the pavement, the beating continued.
“She was on top of me, hitting me in the head, hitting me over and over,” Bien-Aime said.
Steangeli Medina, 17, was charged with assault, menacing and harassment. There was no answer at the Medina family’s home on Wednesday – just the sounds of a dog barking inside the apartment.
“People don’t understand we work with this everyday,” Bien-Aime said. “It’s a rough job, trust me.”
Bus drivers told CBS 2 that passengers routinely argue with them or even spit on them, and that there is very little they can do about it.
“You’re totally defenseless if somebody attacks you from behind,” Frank Austin said.
Frank Austin, with Transport Workers Union Local 100, said the union – which represents some 15,000 City bus drivers – wants new protective barriers in every bus, encasing the drivers so that the next case of rider rage doesn’t go this far.
Union leaders said they have been fighting for the driver barriers, or shields, since 2000, when driver Edwin Thomas of Brooklyn was stabbed to death by a rider who tried to beat a fare.