A video screen grab shows Navy veteran Lyft driver James Evans, left, and a police mug shot shows stabbing suspect Steffon Mitchell.

A video screen grab shows Navy veteran Lyft driver James Evans, left, and a police mug shot shows stabbing suspect Steffon Mitchell. (YouTube, left; Westland, Mich., Police Department)

(Tribune News Service) — A 75-year-old Lyft driver was forced to fight for his life when a customer suddenly plunged a knife into his neck during a ride in suburban Detroit, according to news outlets and Michigan police.

The driver, James Evans, is a Navy veteran who has worked as a rideshare driver for seven years, giving more than 22,000 rides, he told TV station WJBK.

Before 10 p.m. on March 16, he picked up a passenger in Detroit with a destination in Westland, a suburb roughly 20 miles west of Detroit’s downtown, he told WXYZ. When they arrived, Evans’ quiet passenger suddenly shifted forward — a split second warning before a brutal attack.

The suspect, later identified as 26-year-old Steffon Mitchell, began stabbing Evans in the neck, Westland police said in a news release.

There didn’t seem to be any reason, any provocation, but Evans didn’t have time to think, he told WJBK.

He took several knife blows to the neck and cuts to his arms and hands as he struggled to unbuckle his seat belt while fending off Mitchell, the station reported.

Evans unbuckled the seat belt and bailed out of the car.

“The car was still rolling of course, it kind of stunned him. He got out and started running,” he told the station. “It was only a matter of minutes, maybe two minutes. It was so quick, he hit me. And I guess he realized I wasn’t going to die right away.”

Mitchell was gone and Evans called 911, WXYZ reported. First responders arrived in minutes, but as they tried to stop the blood pouring from Evans’ neck, he was sure it wouldn’t be enough, the station reported.

“I thought I was going to die,” Evans said. “I felt in shock and I just felt this is it. (I) wanted to start praying and say my last prayer.”

Evans was taken to a hospital in stable condition, Westland police said.

Investigators started searching for Mitchell and he was taken into custody on March 17, the day after the attack. He is facing multiple charges, including assault with intent to murder.

Aside from some stitches and scars, Evans says he’s recovered, WXYZ reported. He’s forgiven Mitchell and is ready to get back behind the wheel.

“I just hope he gets some help,” Evans said. “I ask Jesus Christ to forgive him as I forgive him, but he still has to answer to the law.”

©2023 The Charlotte Observer.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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