Attacked Tampa bus driver says 2 things saved his life

Posted at 3:28 PM, Nov 21, 2019

TAMPA, Fla.-- Bus driver Schnaider Prophete says two things saved his life Tuesday, his military experience and a bus passenger he calls his guardian angel.

"If he didn't step in I probably wouldn't be talking to you," Prophete says.

Prophete was five minutes from finishing his route in Tampa when he says a hostile man, later identified as James Lee Ambrose, got on the bus near Waters and Nebraska.

When Ambrose couldn't pay the fare he attacked Prophete with Mace and a box cutter; only running off when that good Samaritan stepped in.

"The first thing that came to mind was to stop the bleeding," Prophete recalls.

Prophete says he went to management six years ago asking about protective shields. He was told they didn't have the money. Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority only started installing protective shields this year after a driver was killed.

"It's cheaper to prevention something from happening than react to what's happening," Prophete says.

Even with a shield Prophete isn't sure he'll be going back, once he's better. "The physical healing process may come fairly good but the mental healing process may take a little longer."

Hillsborough County Area Transit says this is the 11th physical attack on a driver this year. The agency says it's working to increase the penalty for people who attack bus drivers.