MBTA employee assaulted by would-be passenger

It’s happened to all of us at times, being just a few seconds too late to catch the bus pulling away from the curb.

On the night of August 23, 2012, Paul S. Kouroyen, 33, took the sting of missing the bus a little closer to heart. The 455 cruised away from Wonderland Station into its route, despite Kouroyen’s pleas from along aside it, and eventually from behind, to wait for him. Kouroyen then followed the bus driven by Baulo Rodriquez, 50, to Central Square in Lynn, Massachusetts. He asked Rodriguez if he was the driver who had left him. Rodriguez, a twelve year veteran of the MBTA, replied that he was.

A beating followed.

Rodriguez suffered bruises to his left and right cheeks, and cuts to his legs and fingers despite his attempts to defend himself. Police arrived to confirm the incident with testimony from Rodriguez and passengers who witnessed the assault. The bus driver was bleeding from the mouth and nose, obviously upset.

Rodriguez was taken to a nearby hospital. Kouroyen fled. But he was quickly identified and apprehended. During his arraignment on Friday afternoon, Kouroyen was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (a “shod foot,” i.e. a foot wearing a shoe). Bail was set at $1,000. The judge also ordered Kouroyen to stay away from Rodriguez and the witness who identified him.

Reading this story reminded me of the rising trend of violent altercations. The summer of 2012 has been ravaged with senseless shootings that have stolen the nation’s attention, from the Colorado massacre to the tragedy just last week outside the Empire State building. The MBTA workforce seems to be a microcosm of that trend. As of August 24, there have been 68 reported assaults against MBTA employees. 28% of those assaults involved spitting. Only 62 assaults were reported by the same date last year.

In response to violence against MBTA employees, 300 signs have been posted in buses to, according to spokesman Joe Pesaturo, remind the passengers that the drivers are people too. “Thanks for being nice” hovers in large letters above a brief message: “Ride with respect.”

I agree wholeheartedly. Respecting each other as people is vital to personal safety and preserving a healthy society. But in the interest of advocating for the prevention of personal injury or physical harm, I found a site that lists eight sensible steps to avoid physical altercations.

1) Maintain eye contact and watch the offenders hands at all times.
2) Try to ignore insulting commentary about your or someone you care about 3) Stay as calm as possible. Don’t escalate the argument.
4) Avoid the moral high ground. Declaring that you’ve got “better things to do than …” may only antagonize the person.
5) Leave your ego at the door. If necessary, tell the offender what s/he wants to hear.
6) Keep your hands raised in a non-threatening position. The “prayer-position” is an ideal choice.
7) Walking away is always an option.
8) If you’re in the car. Lock the doors and refuse to engage.

For a more thorough rundown on these steps and other advice, you can click here. And, as always, if you have any questions or concerns about personal injury, Altman and Altman would be happy to help. Stay safe.

• http://www1.whdh.com/news/articles/local/metro-west/12008353652126/bicyclist-killed-in-wellesley-hit-and-run/

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