Released from hospital, student looks back on knife attack

Franklin Regional High School junior Derek Jones recalls seeing classmate Alex Hribal making his way down a hallway full of students with a knife in each hand the morning of April 9, but he didn't expect to be one of his targets.

"I thought he had attacked someone else and was trying to run away," Derek said.

But within seconds, Derek said, as Alex made his way past him, swinging both knives, Derek was stabbed in the back so deeply that a kidney was severed and his liver lacerated. The cut was about 3 inches in length, the knife about 8 inches long.

Franklin Regional student recalls knife attack

Derek Jones, a junior at Franklin Regional, was one of the stabbing victims in a mass assault earlier this month. He was released from the hospital and talks with the PG's Mary Niederberger about the attack. (Video edited by Melissa Tkach; 4/24/2014)

"I somewhat felt it," Derek, 17, said Thursday as he sat in the living room of his home in Export.

But he didn't know for sure that he had been stabbed until he saw other students getting stabbed.

"After I was stabbed, I saw he moved over here and over there and it seemed like it was just anyone" who was getting stabbed, Derek said.

He was able to make it to the nearest classroom, where he collapsed.

After the attack, Derek spent five hours in surgery at Forbes Hospital in Monroeville, followed by 10 days in intensive care with part of that time in isolation because he developed C.diff, a serious intestinal bacterial infection that required him to be in isolation. He was released from the hospital Wednesday night. He said his incisions have healed well and he is not in pain.

As he recalled the stabbing Thursday, Derek said he remembered being in a classroom where science teacher James Passarelli kept talking to him to make sure he stayed conscious until paramedics arrived, and his prom date Kristen Beard held his hand.

"He kept asking me, 'What's my name?' and I had to keep telling him," Derek said. "I know I bled a lot. I was face-down most of the time."

Derek said within 10 minutes he was in an ambulance heading to Forbes. By the time he was on his way, "I knew a bunch of students were stabbed."

In all, 21 students and a security guard were stabbed in the attack. Two students remain hospitalized at Forbes -- Greg Keener, 15, a sophomore who is in critical condition in intensive care, and Connor Warwick, 16, also a sophomore, who is in fair condition.

Also released from UMPC Presbyterian Hospital on Wednesday was junior Jared Boger, 17, who underwent four surgeries and was among the most severely wounded with a knife wound in the chest and through the liver just below his heart, doctors have said. His mother, Janet, said Jared is tired and still in a lot of pain.

Alex is charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault and weapon possession. He is being held without bond at the Westmoreland County juvenile detention center in Greensburg.

After arriving at the hospital, Derek said the next thing he remembered was waking up two days later in the ICU on a respirator. He remembered immediately why he was there.

He recalled that a split-second decision he had made that Wednesday morning to go to the lower floor of the high school to visit with Kristen is what put him in the path of Alex's rampage. On most days, Derek headed to the second floor where he would find a quiet spot to "take a little nap" before his first class.

"Pretty much, I made a pretty big life decision right around 7 o'clock in the morning," Derek said.

He said when he saw Alex coming down the hall, he shifted his position so he was standing in the hall and Kristen was against a wall in order to protect her.

To Derek, the look on Alex's face said: "I don't want to do this, but I have to."

Derek said he didn't know Alex, but had classes with his older brother, Ryan. He's at a loss to explain why Alex went on his rampage.

"I have no idea why he would have done this," he said.

Derek is a member of the high school bowling team, chorus and guitar ensemble. He is looking forward to getting back to school. His doctors have said he must remain at home for the next week, but then expect to clear him to return to class.

Derek said he is unsure what his emotions will be upon his return.

"I honestly don't know how I am going to feel," he said.

Mary Niederberger: or 412-263-1590. First Published April 24, 2014 1:11 PM

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