This Bus Driver Saved a Grandmother from a Violent Assault

Not on his route!

Winston Douglas standing outside the bus he drivesAndrew Hetherington for Reader's Digest
Winston Douglas says he did nothing special. The woman he saved disagrees.

On a lazy Sunday morning, 54-year-old Winston Douglas maneuvered his bus along a normally bustling but then quiet Ormond Street in the Peoplestown section of Atlanta. A woman using a walker was slowly crossing the street, so Douglas, a driver for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), tapped the brakes as he turned the wheel to the left to go around her.

As he did so, he noticed a muscular young man in his early 20s standing shirtless on the sidewalk. That wasn’t all that remarkable for a late summer day in Atlanta. What was remarkable was that the man was carrying a large kitchen knife.

“I was looking and thinking, ‘Why does he have a knife in his hand?’ ” Douglas told 11Alive in Atlanta. Within seconds, Douglas says, he saw the man sneak up behind the unsuspecting woman, pull back his arm, and then bring it down quickly, stabbing her before she reached the sidewalk. The two collapsed onto the road between two parked cars, and the man continued his assault.

The bus passengers witnessing the attack gasped. June Jarrett thought she was watching a horror movie come to life. “I’m screaming at him to stop, saying, ‘You’re going to kill her.’ And he looks up at me and just continues to stab her,” Jarrett told WSB-TV.

Douglas immediately stopped his bus. Quickly unbuckling his seat belt, he threw open the folding doors and jumped out. He grabbed a hefty four-foot-long stick from a construction site nearby.

The woman was now flat on the ground, howling in pain as the attacker continued his assault. Douglas ran the few steps over to them and brought the stick down as hard as he could on the man’s back. He hit the man again and again, until the assailant, his chest covered in his victim’s blood, turned toward Douglas. The bus driver stood his ground.

Douglas is not a violent man, but his determination to save the woman was clear. The attacker backed off and bolted down Ormond Street. Douglas and two other bystanders gave chase, eventually tackling the assailant to the sidewalk. They tied his hands with an orange extension cord and called police and an ambulance.

The victim, a 63-year-old grandmother named Terri Bradley, lay on the road bleeding profusely. Passengers jumped off the bus to offer what aid they could until EMS arrived. Terri was transported to a nearby hospital, where she spent five days recovering from more than 20 stab wounds to her neck, hand, and thigh, as well as severe bruising.

The assailant, his chest covered in his victim’s blood, turned to Douglas.

Terri never did find out why the stranger chose to attack her on that day in 2018, though the assailant’s mother told WSB-TV that he suffers from emotional issues and at the time of the attack had not taken the medication that controls his violent outbursts. He was arrested and ultimately pled guilty to charges of aggravated assault, aggravated battery, and possession of a dangerous weapon.

Two weeks after the assault, Douglas visited Terri at her home. He brought along his one-year-old daughter and a bouquet of flowers. Seeing Douglas, Terri became teary and asked her son, Derrick Bradley, to help her to her feet so she could greet her savior.

“No, you don’t have to get up,” Douglas told her.

“Yes, I do,” said Terri in a firm voice. It was the only way she could give him a proper hug.

“Thank you, Jesus. Glory. You’re all I had to help me,” she said, crying into his chest.

“I just did what anybody would have done,” Douglas replied.

Derrick disagreed. Shaking his head, he said, “Not everyone would have done what you did.”

Next, read this story of how a teacher saved a grandmother’s life—thanks to virtual school at home.

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Andy Simmons
Andy Simmons is a features editor at Reader's Digest.