The King County Metro bus driver who was injured during the Lake City shooting spree spoke to media Friday and described the moments when a gunman opened fire at his bus full of passengers and how he steered it away from the suspect.
Operator Eric Stark, 53, is still recovering from his injuries at Harborview Medical Center.
"I feel pretty good actually," said Stark, before pointing out his wounds. "I'm a little tired and a little sore, but I feel fine."
Stark was driving Route 75 on Wednesday afternoon when he saw a man running for the bus stop as he approached the bus zone.
"He tripped and fell, and face-planted the pavement. And I just thought 'Oh no, the guy is probably hurt. I'm probably gonna have to call and he's probably gonna need medical attention.' He hit the ground hard," Stark said. "He got into a shooting stance and very calmly took aim, and then I heard the report of the gun, and saw the glass come through the windshield, and felt the bullet hit me."
He described the moment after he was shot as being "surreal."
"That's when I said out loud, 'I think I was shot,'" he said.
After he was hit, Stark went behind the fare box to cover himself.
"I got down and did like a two-second assessment, 'Okay, I can breathe, I can move my fingers and toes, I can see, I can think and I can talk.' Because I said some stuff out loud and I'm like 'OK that's good enough, we're getting out of here,'" he said.
Stark hit the emergency alarm button, put the bus in reverse and backed it up. As he was steering, he reported to transit that he had been shot.
"I was physically able to get out us out of there and that's what I just focused on, getting us out of there. Getting as far away as possible and then I'll worry about me later," he said.
Several local leaders hailed Stark as a hero for his quick actions and getting the 12 passengers on his bus to safety.
"Eric Stark demonstrated extraordinary heroism today as he took quick action while injured to steer his Metro coach and passengers to safety. The entire King County family supports his speedy recovery, and we grieve the lives lost in this terrible incident," said King County Executive Dow Constantine.
Stark said he wanted to get back to work as soon as possible.
"I'm sure I'll get introspective about it later but it doesn't freak me out," he said. "Obviously it's a little disturbing, but I'm OK."
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