Greyhound bus passenger Nathan Wanhala had a split second to react when a crazed woman pulled out a knife about 45 minutes outside Bakersfield, California. Wanhala, 30, and several other passengers chose to intervene, preventing a chaotic situation from potentially escalating to murder.
The bus had stopped in Bakersfield when 48-year-old Teresa Madrigal first tried to board.
Her erratic, confrontational behavior initially concerned the bus driver, but after a conversation with Madrigal, the driver allowed her to board the bus headed for Fresno.
Madrigal was muttering to herself, seated near the back of the bus. To everyone’s horror, the woman abruptly shot up out of her seat and pulled out a knife.
A violent scene quickly ensued when Madrigal grabbed a nearby 3-year-old girl and held her at knife point.
When the toddler’s mother tried to take her child back, Madrigal stabbed the mother in the gut.
Wanhala described Madrigal’s behavior as “hysterical,” adding that “she really was out for blood.” In a flash, Wanhala worked to pry the knife out of the delusional woman’s hands while another passenger tried to pin the woman down.
Oakland-bound passenger Tanya Wright held the 3-year-old girl while other passengers attended to the toddler’s wounded mother.
“The baby reached out to me and I held her the entire time,” Wright said.
Wanhala sustained some nasty gashes in his hand, but his own injuries weren’t a priority at the time. He, along with the rest of the travelers, just wanted the crazed woman contained.
“I just wanted her to stop,” Wanhala recalled. “I just didn’t want to hurt anybody.”
In the end, four people were hospitalized, including the mother and Madrigal, who both had surgery. Everyone is expected to make a full recovery.
Wanhala has been praised for his actions, but he insists he did nothing heroic.
Others feel differently, expressing relief that people like Wanhala are willing to put themselves in harm’s way to help a stranger.
“I don’t consider myself a hero,” Wanhala said. “If I were in that same predicament, I hope someone else would help me.”
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