Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bus Video Shows Brutal Driver Beating

EDMONTON -- A video of the brutal curb stomping of the face of an Edmonton Transit bus driver – an attack that “horrified” stunned eyewitnesses – was shown in court Monday.

The recording, captured because the bus was equipped with a video camera, was played as part of the criminal proceedings against Gary Edwin Mattson, 25.

After Mattson pleaded guilty to aggravated assault on May 6, the Crown said it is seeking to have him declared a dangerous offender and handed an indefinite prison term.

The graphic, soundless video begins with an agitated Mattson, who is wearing a hoody pulled over his head, arguing with bus driver Tom Bregg, 58, over the fare.

Bregg eventually drives off, but then stops again and can be seen motioning for Mattson to get off the bus.

Mattson then gets right in the face of Bregg, pointing and gesturing, while, according to passengers on the #10 bus, continuing to yell and swear at the long-time driver.

Then, unexpectedly and unbelievably quick, Mattson attacks. He punches Bregg three times in the face, knocking him unconscious, and then grabs the driver and throws him out the front door and onto the ground.

Mattson immediately follows and begins stomping on Bregg’s face, using the bus door for additional leverage. He comes down with his shoe 14 times, pauses for a second and then launches one last blow before fleeing.

The video then shows a passenger coming to the doorway and looking out before returning with a disturbed look. Other passengers can then be seen coming off the bus and checking on the injured driver before help arrives.

Mattson had been charged with attempted murder for the vicious Dec. 3 attack, which happened about 7:30 a.m. near 139 Avenue and Victoria Trail, but the Crown plans to withdraw that charge in exchange for the guilty plea.

He has also pleaded guilty to assaulting a peace officer for spitting at a city police officer following his arrest at a nearby home a short time after the brutal bus attack.

“There was lots of blood and it was difficult to watch,” said one witness. Other passengers said the driver’s face “was smashed in pretty bad,” his nose looked like it was pushed into his face and he was making choking noises.

Two large pools of blood were also clearly visible outside the door of the bus.

Court heard Bregg was unable to breathe when taken to hospital and needed an emergency tracheotomy to open his airways. He also had severe facial injuries, including multiple fractures and lacerations to his nose and ears, which surgeons described as a “pan facial smash.”

Bregg, who was left barely recognizable, could not recall the attack for two weeks and remained in intensive care for 16 days before being transferred to the Glenrose rehabilitation centre. He has since undergone two reconstructive surgeries on his face, and one on his eyes, and is awaiting further surgery. His left eye remains shut.

Bregg, who is single and has no children, has worked for ETS since 1976 and is also a motorcycle safety instructor. He is currently on disability leave and not driving bus.

The case is slated to be back in court on May 25.