OAKLAND (KCBS) – An Oakland teenager, who suffered burns after being set on fire while on an AC Transit bus, spoke for the first time about the incident on Thursday.
18-year-old Luke “Sasha” Fleischman, an agender high school student in Berkeley, was released from the hospital on Wednesday, more than three weeks after the teen’s skirt was set on fire while on board an AC Transit bus.
Fleischman, who doesn’t identify as either male or female, is doing well, but is still wearing bandages on both legs, after suffering second and third degree burns in the November 4 incident.
Fleischman said the attack is still a fresh memory.
“My first instinct was kind of dumb, start waving around, trying to put it out with air, but it just fans the flames and makes it bigger,” Fleischman said. “My second reaction, which is probably what saved my life, is something I went back to my kindergarten class, stop, drop and roll.”
16-year-old Richard Thomas is accused of setting Fleischman on fire. He is being prosecuted as an adult on charges of aggravated mayhem and felony assault, with hate crime clauses. But at a hearing this week, his attorney William DuBois argued that Thomas should be charged as a juvenile rather than as an adult, as his client has said the attack was just a prank.
“I think you should really know better than to light someone’s clothing on fire,” Fleischman said. “I think you should be able to realize that that’s not just a funny prank.”
Fleischman is not ready to forgive Thomas, but also believes the teen should not be tried as an adult. That is expected to be decided at a hearing on December 20.
Fleischman was treated at the burn unit at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco.
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