The Boy on the Bus: A 16-Year-Old Recounts a Terror Attack

The Boy on the Bus: A 16-Year-Old Recounts a Terror Attack

Although Noah heard the gunfire, he did not see when a police officer shot Sayfullo Saipov, 29, the driver charged in the attack. He also did not see the dead and injured along the bike path.

Noah sat at his family’s dining room table Friday night, his Beagle, Peanut, in a chair beside him.

“I got scared,” he said. “I had glass on me. I was crying. I’m pretty scared when bad things happen.”

He remembers the gunshots, and the purple gloves that emergency medical technicians wore as they checked him and asked him questions: “Where are you from?” “What’s your date of birth?”

Photo

The bus that the motorist hit had four people on it: Noah, a female student, the matron and the bus driver. The three of them were injured. Noah was unscathed, at least physically. Credit Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press

Noah called his mother and asked her to pick him up, but he was not sure where he was. Brooklyn maybe, he told her.

Mrs. Salz said Noah typically calls to let her know that he has boarded the bus, but that day his voice was shaky, and she immediately knew something was wrong. An emergency medical worker explained that the bus had been involved in an accident, and that he was unharmed, but that he had to be transported to the hospital as a precaution. Panicked, he resisted.

“No, no. I don’t want to do it,” Noah cried, his mother said.

Mrs. Salz reassured Noah on the phone that he was fine and that he needed to follow instructions from the emergency workers. She told him that his father, David Salz who works downtown would meet him at the hospital. Noah said his bus driver also helped to keep him calm. He said the driver held him as emergency workers pushed the two on a stretcher to an ambulance.

Mrs. Salz had no idea that her son had been involved in much more than a routine accident. After learning that the area was placed into lockdown because of a “police situation,” she said she searched online for news updates and saw initial reports about the crash, and later of road rage and gunfire. She still did not yet know that her son had survived a terror attack.

“I’m concerned like ‘Oh my God,’ but my son is OK,” she said. “I didn’t know anything other than that.”

Mr. Salz met his son at the hospital, and Mrs. Salz went out trick or treating in Park Slope with their daughter, Talia, 9, and younger son, Jake, 14. Noah was supposed to be there with them dressed as a witch doctor. It was when she was out that Mrs. Salz learned the harrowing details of what had happened.

“I was disappointed because I had to stay in Lower Manhattan,” Noah said about missing out on Halloween festivities with his siblings.

On their way back from trick-or-treating, Mrs. Salz, Talia, and Jake boarded a train at Seventh Avenue that happened to be the same train car that Noah and Mr. Salz were in. Noah’s mother and siblings rushed over to greet him. Talia hugged her brother and asked him if he was OK. She even shared some of her Halloween candy with him, an unusual move, Mrs. Salz said.

After the attack, Talia slept in her parents’ bed and told them she didn’t feel comfortable taking the bus to school. Her father drove her to school for three days. Jake has not talked much about what happened. Mrs. Salz said Noah has not cried, but he did tell her that “the matron fell on him, was crying for help, and her face scared him.”

Last week, Talia rode the school bus and slept in her room for the first time since the attack. Noah quickly returned to his routine. Missing school, he said, was not an option. On Friday night, before he retreated to his room to complete his homework, Noah said, “This week I’m happy.”

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