A bus driver in Dayton, Ohio, is attributing his current hold on life to the fortuitous placement of a religious devotional, a bible prayer book, in his pocket. Said placement seems to be the reason why Rick Waggoner wasn't fatally wounded when he was shot multiple times on Monday. In fact, as ABC's "Good Morning America" reported (via Yahoo News) Feb. 25, the book, a prayer bible entitled "The Message," stopped two bullets in what was apparently an attempt on his life as part of what might have been a gang initiation.
"I had a book in my pocket - at first I thought it had went through, but it just feels like I've been hit by a sledgehammer in the chest, and I've been cut on the arm," Rick Waggoner told the police dispatcher when he reported the assault, according to WKEF.
Waggoner, 49, was driving his usual route early Monday morning when his bus broke down. He was then approached by three people that he believed were juveniles. One of them said to one of the others, "If you want to be all the way in the club, you have to kill the polar bear."
But the father of three refused to simply let his attackers have their way. He fought them, eventually managing to wrest the gun and the knife from them. He even shot at them as they ran away, but told police he wasn't certain if he had hit any of them.
Waggoner told police he also stabbed one of the assailants in the leg with a pen. It was when the attacker yelled that the three fled. They then jumped into a two-door blue car and left the scene.
As Dayton Police Sgt. Michael Pauly explained, Waggoner "fought for his life."
The 49-year-old bus driver was shot twice in the chest, once in the hip, and was also stabbed in the arm. The two chest shots never made it past the bible prayer book in his shirt pocket. Police would later dislodge the two rounds caught inside the book.
Sgt. Pauly said of the incident: "There was obviously some kind of intervention involved in the incident because he should not be here."
The investigation into the assault is ongoing. "We're still trying to find out what exactly happened," Sgt. Richard Blommel of the Dayton Police Department said. "We're going to go back to the scene."
Waggoner is recovering from his wounds and doing well, Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority Executive Director Mark Donaghy said in a statement. He noted that there hadn't been a bus-related shooting in over a decade. He also acknowledged Rick Waggoner as one of his "best" bus drivers, as having a perfect attendance record, zero accidents, and 90 percent on-time performance record (something he acknowledged as "incredible") in the ten years he has worked for the Regional Transit Authority.
"That just shows you the kind of person Rick is," Donaghy said.