Airman Stone expected to make full recovery after stabbing
WASHINGTON — Spencer Stone, the U.S. airman who helped thwart a gunman’s attack on a Paris-bound train, is expected to make a full recovery from injuries suffered Thursday in a fight outside a Sacramento, Calif. bar, an Air Force spokesman said Friday.
Stone, a 23-year-old airman first class stationed at Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento, will likely spend several days in UC David Medical Center after he underwent surgery for three stab wounds to his torso, according to a statement from the hospital. He was upgraded to fair condition Friday in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
"He is awake, able to get out of bed and in good spirits," a hospital statement said. "He is continuing to recover."
In August, Stone and two of his childhood friends -- Army Spc. Alek Skarlatos and college student Anthony Sadler – were vacationing in Europe when they took down a gunman and stopped a terrorist attack on a French train. Stone suffered a cut thumb and other injuries in stopping the train attack.
On Thursday, Stone was stabbed multiple times in the upper body during the fight at about 12:45 a.m. near 21st and K streets, an area popular for its bars and nightclubs, said Ken Bernard, deputy chief for the Sacramento Police Department.
Bernard said the incident was not related to terrorism and that Stone was not targeted for his role in subduing a heavily armed gunman with ties to radical Islam aboard the train.
Grainy surveillance video of Thursday’s fight posted to YouTube appears to show Stone fighting off a handful of attackers on an intersection sidewalk. The video shows a man in a white shirt, identified as Stone, land several punches against his attackers before they encircle him and swing their arms. Though the video does not clearly show any weapons, a large, dark stain suddenly appears on Stone’s shirt during the fight.
Despite his wounds, Stone remains standing and throws punches until the other men run away.
Kennedy Hailemariam, a cab driver who witnessed the incident, said in an interview with a local television station that a woman with Stone was hit during the fight and Stone was bleeding “like from everywhere.”
Stone, of Carmichael, Calif., was expected to eventually return to service, Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Karns said Friday. The Air Force will work with medical professionals to determine when he will be ready to return to work and any limitations he might face.
“Of primary importance right now is Airman Stone's medical treatment and providing support to him and his family,” Karns said.
Bernard said Thursday that police were searching for “two male Asian adults … wearing white T-shirts and blue jeans.” They fled the scene in a 2009-2012 dark-colored Toyota Camry, the deputy chief said.
Sacramento police did not respond Friday to a phone call or email from Stars and Stripes.
Sadler and Skarlatos took to social media following the incident to ask for prayers for Stone.
“Spencer is one tough guy,” Skarlatos tweeted Thursday. “And only he could have done something like that and lived, yet again.”
Sadler simply tweeted: “#PrayforSpencer.”
The trio of friends was honored by the French government and at the Pentagon for their actions on the train.
The Air Force awarded the Purple Heart to Stone and its highest award for noncombat valor, the Airman’s medal.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter described the actions in France by Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler as “an amazing story, right out of a movie.”
“Spencer Stone is a very special Airman,” Karns said. “His story and selflessness has inspired so many people. His instinct for helping others is well chronicled. Our hope is for his speedy recovery.”