Lehigh Valley

Police: Man attacks LANTA driver with ceramic mug

NORTHAMPTON BOROUGH, Pa. - A driver for LANTA says he keeps re-living the moment a passenger bashed him on the head leaving him with a bloody wound and a severe concussion.

Ulus Johnson says he has nightmares about the attack and the injury has caused some short term memory loss.

Johnson has been driving for the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority, better known as LANTA for 12 years.

"By having the same route I meet the same people every day and they're nice people," said Johnson.

But, he says he'll never forget Wednesday, October 4, when he was driving the 103 route from the Lehigh Valley Mall to Northampton Borough came upon on a detour.

"At that point I didn't know where the detour was going to come out at so I could have been a few blocks away before I got back on the main route. So I just asked if anybody like to get out," added Johnson.

No one got out.

Witnesses say one passenger, John Gardner, Jr., was asleep, however.

As Johnson drove the bus down a narrow 15th street, police say Gardner woke up in a rage and hit Johnson on the head with a ceramic coffee cup.

"I felt this horrible pain and I am saying what on earth could cause this much pain," said Johnson.

Johnson was transported to the hospital where it took 13 stitches to close the wound.

But the mental anguish isn't as easy to fix.

Johnson says he's now suffering short term memory loss and he can't sleep.

"When I finally get to sleep, I have nightmares, so the sleep is interrupted," said Johnson. "So it's like a 24-hour thing. It's wearing on my body."

Johnson feels this could have been avoided if LANTA had better protection for drivers like barriers used on some buses in larger cities.

Gardner is charged with assault and recklessly endangering a person.

"It's changed my life completely," said Johnson. "It's changed my wife's life, my family's life, and just that one act has put us into a tailspin."

LANta is helping Johnson anyway they can.

A union representative for the drivers also tells us they have asked for barriers before, and will do so again at their meeting later this week.

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