Stabbed in the back by a knife-wielding classmate rampaging through his school Wednesday, Brett Hurt, a Franklin Regional High School sophomore, said "it was all kind of like a blur."
The first of the 22 victims to give a media interview, the 16-year-old appeared Thursday in a wheelchair at a packed news conference at Forbes Hospital, joined by his mother and the top medical staff.
"I think all of us who got injured in the accident need time to cope," he said. "We're all lucky to still be alive. Even the people that are in critical right now, they're lucky. We're pretty much blessed."
Stabbing victim Brett Hurt talks to the media at Forbes Hospital
Brett Hurt , a 16-year-old sophomore, appeared with his mother, Amanda Leonard and various medical staff to talk about the tragedy at Forbes Hospital where he and classmates are still being treated. (Video by Nate Guidry; 4/10/2014)
He said the incident happened too quickly to recall much. Alex Hribal, 16, a sophomore at the high school, has been arrested and charged as the attacker.
"Only thing I remember is messing around with Gracey [Evans] and like bumping her out of the way" as the two were "goofing off" before classes, he said.
"Next thing I know the kid runs by and hits me in the back, and that's when everything went into straight chaos. When I got hit everyone ran in different directions. Gracey was screaming and asking if I was all right."
He said Gracey, a junior, applied pressure to his wound until paramedics arrived. Doctors said her actions helped save Brett.
"What was going through my mind?" he asked. " 'Will I survive or will I die?' Gracey saved my life."
Brett was among seven students treated at Forbes.
Five students were still in Forbes Hospital on Thursday night, spokesman Dan Laurent said. Two of those students, both 16, are intubated and in critical condition in the intensive care unit, along with a 15-year-old who is in serious condition. Two 16-year-olds are in fair condition, he said.
Brett and a 15-year-old were discharged from Forbes on Thursday, Mr. Laurent said.
Christoph Kaufmann, chief trauma surgeon at Forbes, said the crisis occurred at an "opportune time," during a shift change, so a surplus staff of 20 doctors and 40 nurses was on hand.
Other badly hurt victims were being treated Thursday at different hospitals.
A 17-year-old boy at UPMC Presbyterian, stabbed through the liver among other wounds, underwent a second round of surgery and likely will have surgery again today.
He was intubated but responsive and remained in critical condition in the intensive care unit.
At Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, a 14-year-old boy and a 17-year-old boy, both with stab wounds to the right chest, were listed in fair condition.
At Forbes, Brett said he was among the first to be stabbed.
In local and national media appearances Wednesday, Gracey credited him with shielding her from Alex. Brett said he was taken by surprise, however, and struck from behind.
"I didn't even know what was going on," he said.
He said Gracey applied pressure to his back and slowed the bleeding.
Paramedics then took over.
Brett's mother, Amanda Leonard, said Gracey visited Brett at the hospital twice on Wednesday and finally had to be shooed away because she didn't want to leave his side.
"I'm proud of her as much as I'm proud of my own son," Ms. Leonard said. "I've already hugged her, I've kissed her, I have told her 'Thank you,' and there is nothing in the world I can do for that girl that can thank her enough for what she has done."
She said that when her daughter, who was in the school library at the time of the incident, called her to say Brett was on the list of victims, "I dropped."
"I don't think any parent in the world would ever want to go through that kind of agony, and for all of the students' parents who are in the hospital with their children right now, I send my condolences and I understand your pain."
She also implored parents, students and school officials to pay attention to the signs of troubled children and reach out to students who have difficulty coping with modern life.
"What have we done to alienate this child?" she said of Alex. "I hope this child can find some peace."
Brett said he didn't really know Alex, a common theme among the students at Franklin Regional.
"I feel that he has some issues that he needs to work out," he said. "He made a really bad decision, which took him down a path that I don't think he should have went down. I think he could have chosen a different path to take, because everyone has more than one road to take in life."
Torsten Ove: email@example.com or 412-263-1510. First Published April 10, 2014 6:33 AM