A man who stabbed multiple people on a TriMet bus in Oregon City last year will serve 15 years in prison.
Austin William Vanhagen, 20, on Tuesday pleaded no contest to four charges of second-degree assault as part of a plea deal in Clackamas County Circuit Court.
The night of Oct. 2, 2012, Vanhagen was preparing to get off a bus on Line 33 near Molalla Avenue in Oregon City when he started using a racial slur toward the driver, who is African-American.
Another passenger attempted to escort him off the bus, and the two became entangled in a physical altercation on the ground outside. Additional people went to help, at which time the suspect brandished a knife and stabbed his first victim, prosecutor Mike Regan said.
Vanhagen climbed back aboard the bus and stabbed the bus driver, Leonard James, in the stomach, Regan said. In all, three people suffered stab wounds, and a fourth was bitten in the arm. Andrew Crombie was the passenger who was bitten; Richard Dickson suffered five stab wounds, and Jeremy Thompson suffered as many as six.
While the wounds didnt prove fatal, Regan said, they were very serious, requiring surgery and long periods of rehabilitation for some of the victims.
They continue to suffer the repercussions of their injuries, he said.
Police officers used a Taser to subdue Vanhagen when they arrived at the scene. Regan noted that video footage from inside of the bus clearly showed the attacks, apparently fueled by explosive anger and alcohol intoxication. Vanhagens blood alcohol content was 0.2 when he was tested afterward.
Vanhagen appeared in court with his attorney and spoke briefly on his own behalf.
Im sorry for the victims, Vanhagen said. Im sorry for what I put my family through, and I love my family.
Judge Katherine E. Weber sentenced him to 15 years in prison.
Theres absolutely no excuse whatsoever for the cruel, inhumane and heinous action that you took, Weber said, adding that she has the greatest respect for the passengers who put themselves at risk to try and succeed at saving the bus drivers life.
She also ordered Vanhagen to pay $28,461 in restitution. Additional payments could be forthcoming, according to attorneys, who said at least one civil suit has been filed against TriMet, and additional civil cases could still emerge.