Driver Of Torched San Francisco Muni Bus Honored For Heroism
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco Municipal Railway bus driver Alan Yam remembered the tense moments he spent waiting for help after a mob vandalized his bus after the Giants’ World Series victory as he was honored for his heroism Tuesday.
“I was so scared, my body was shaking, my hands and my fingers were shaking,” Yam said, recalling when people bashed in the bus’ windows at Third and Market streets at 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 29 after the Giants swept the Tigers at the World Series in Detroit.
Yam spoke to reporters after the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors honored him Tuesday at City Hall with a proclamation for keeping his eight passengers safe and evacuating them from the bus before it was destroyed by fire.
The board also bestowed a proclamation upon Simon Timony, 28, a native San Franciscan who was beaten and injured that night as he tried to block vandals from continuing to damage the bus while passengers were still inside.
Gregory Graniss, 22, has been charged with felony vandalism and destroying a passenger transit vehicle in the attack, after which the $700,000 bus was burned and destroyed.
Graniss, who remarked that as a Giants fan he was simply “caught up in the moment,” pleaded not guilty to the charges on Monday. Police are seeking other suspects in the case.
Yam, 35, a Mission District resident, said he was driving the 8X Bayshore Express coach down Market Street with its passengers that night when people approached the vehicle and one yelled, “Get the bus!”
The people started shaking the bus, smashing the windows and kicking the front door, said Yam, who then used his radio to make an emergency plea to a Muni dispatcher, who advised him to remain calm.
Yam said he then watched as Timony stood by the bus and attempted to keep the group from continuing to vandalize the bus.
At first, Yam said he felt it was safer for him and his passengers to remain inside, but he was alarmed to see garbage fires outside. He decided to phone police on his cell phone and was told help was on the way.
Yam soon noticed “a lot of garbage” had been thrown into in the bus and sensing the danger, ordered passengers to exit the vehicle and shut off the engine. The mob proceeded to batter the bus and ignite a fire inside it, he said.
“People were caught into the moment” of the reverie of the World Series celebration, Yam said. “Most people would not do that, damage a Muni bus.”
Timony said he and some friends were on Market Street savoring the Giants’ win when he saw people breaking windows on a bus, including one person who picked up a metal police barricade and smashed it through the windshield.
“It seemed like they were breaking every window,” said Timony, adding that he then looked into the bus saw movement in the seats.
“I couldn’t believe there were still people inside,” he said. “I thought someone should do something. So I ran for the bus and got in between people causing damage to the bus. People were pushing and shoving.”
“I told people they shouldn’t do this,” he said.
But then someone “sucker punched” him, breaking his nose, he said.
He then hit the ground, suffering a concussion, and people started kicking him, he said.
Dizzy, he said he did not notice the bus catch ablaze moments later. But he agreed with Yam that perhaps the perpetrators became too elated after the Giants won the Major League Baseball championship.
“It was people getting caught up in the moment,” Timony said. “They might be good people. But it’s not an excuse. Alcohol is not an excuse. There was a mob mentality.”
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)