Man who stepped in and saved HART bus driver from attack speaks out

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – John Phelps is a humble man and doesn’t like all the attention. But after what he went through Tuesday, he knows it’s important to speak out.

“I think that Mr. [Schnaider] Prophete wouldn’t be here. That’s what I think. That’s my view. I believe that gentleman wouldn’t be here. And that’s another thing that saddens me,” the Tampa bus passenger said while getting emotional.

Phelps was on board a HART bus on his way to work when James Ambrose got on board.

The bus was in the area of East Waters Avenue and North 9th Street.

From that moment forward, he knew Ambrose would be trouble.

“The next thing I know, he started spraying him with mace. The front of the bus filled up with mace and the people ran to the back when they seen this happen,” Phelps said.

Then, Phelps explained that Ambrose attacked Prophete.

“As soon as the driver hit the floor, he began cutting him like some kind of psycho. I’ve seen a lot in my life, but I’ve never seen nothing that like. I didn’t know what to do but react,” he said.

Prophete was cut so badly, he had to go to the hospital where 8 On Your Side spoke to him Wednesday night.

He has high praise for Phelps, crediting him for saving his life.

“If he didn’t step in, I probably wouldn’t be talking to you,” Prophete said.

Phelps, who’s a U.S. Army veteran, knows he did what he had to and would certainly do it again.

He urges others to step in during times of trouble.

“Everyone needs to be vigilant and pay attention to their surroundings,” Phelps said.

The suspect remains in jail on no bond.


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