DETROIT (AP) — A man stabbed and slashed two emergency medical technicians who were helping an injured woman along a Detroit street early Tuesday, seriously wounding their faces and hands before fleeing the scene, authorities said.
Police were still searching for the assailant hours after the attack, which happened around 12:30 a.m.
EMTs Kelly Adams and Alfredo Rojas responded to a 911 call and were treating a woman for an injured ankle, interim Fire Commissioner Eric Jones said.
There was a man with her who seemed agitated, and when the EMTs asked him to step back and calm down, he attacked Rojas with a knife or some other sharp object, Jones said.
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Mayor Mike Duggan said Adams probably saved Rojas’ life when she intervened and the attacker slashed and stabbed her, too.
“These folks are out saving our lives and … all of a sudden someone is coming at you,” Duggan said. “It’s heart-wrenching, it’s heartbreaking. These are good people and they didn’t deserve this.”
The attacker fled the scene with the woman with the bad ankle, said Jones, who didn’t know their relationship.
He said Adams and Rojas suffered “horrific” wounds and came “within inches of dying” but managed to drive themselves to a hospital, where they underwent surgery and were listed in stable condition.
Dr. Padraic Sweeny, of Detroit Receiving Hospital, said he expects them to recover.
EMT union leader Joe Barney said Adams and Rojas are both looking at lengthy recoveries.
“In some cases, they may not be normal again,” said Barney, fighting back tears.
Duggan said EMTs deserve “every possible tool for their protection,” although he didn’t elaborate. Jones said he’s talking with police about ways to better protect first responders.