‘I said, what’s wrong with you? He came toward me and slashed my face’

Noel Quintana, 61: When he heard NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio say that crime in subways is lower than in previous years, he felt he had to tell his story. Photo: ABC-7

On February 10, Noel Quintana, an accountant and a volunteer at The Migrant Center of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in Midtown, spoke before a gathering of friends and supporters via Zoom. At the “prayer and healing gathering,” he recounted how, on February 3, a man on a subway train knifed him across the face after Noel asked him to stop kicking his bag.

The online gathering of about a hundred attendees was organized by Fr. Julian Jagudilla of the Migrant Center to “pray for justice for Noel.” Joann Yoo of the Asian American Federation echoed Fr. Julian’s call for solidarity, saying, “Silence and a sense of shame is what’s preventing us from getting a sense of justice.”

Here’s Noel’s story from the day of the horrific attack up until the day before the February 10 Zoom meeting:

On the train at Bedford Station,  a man stood beside me. I was standing. The train was not packed but it’s standing room only. The man who stood beside me started kicking my tote bag. I turned around him so he would not be disturbed or touched by the bag. He’s still kicking it. But the way he kicked it was on a staggered basis, not continuously, he’s pacing it. I said what’s wrong with you. I moved away from him. He came toward me and slashed my face. I thought he was going to punch me. I didn’t feel any punch. I saw the reaction of passengers, they were shocked. I realized there was blood oozing down my face. I asked for help. Nobody came.

The Zoom meeting attended by about a hundred friends, reporters, and supporters of Quintana who offered their support and compassion.

There’s a mic for emergency in the train. Nobody (used that).  I stepped out of the train and asked for help. A woman was calling, maybe, for 911. I walked from end to end to get to the booth of the 1st Ave. station. I shouted to the woman: Help me, help me, call 911. I sat on the stairs and waited for medical help. They came and asked a lot of questions. I was worried I might be losing a lot of blood. They asked me to stand up and asked if I could walk. I said yes. I walked toward the ambulance. I felt dizzy. They put me on a stretcher. They brought me to the emergency at Bellevue. I was so concerned of the loss of blood; nothing was being done yet.

When the doctor looked at me and started giving stitches, I felt the blood coming out. They told me they would bring me to operating room. They would operate on me so they could explore all areas around the wound. I signed some papers. They operated for more than two hours. I finally gained consciousness. I stayed overnight and when I was about to go home, I was watching the news. I saw (Mayor Bill) de Blasio saying crime in subways is lower than in previous years. That’s when I realized I should come forward and do something about it because I don’t want to be part of statistics. Luckily, there was a reporter outside and I was interviewed by ABC 7 news.

Yesterday, I was at the hospital again to remove my stitches. Maybe I was so anxious I felt dizziness. Maybe because of the pain too. I passed out and when I regained consciousness,  I felt numbness all over my body. I called the doctor I told him I felt numbness. I was afraid I was having a stroke. The doctor said it’s just an anxiety attack. They brought me to the ER to have me examined. Luckily it was not a stroke. They asked me to stay overnight. I just came home this noon.

NaFFAA continues to update its list of newly elected, re-elected Filipino American officials in 2020. Email info@naffaa.org for information.

© The FilAm 2021

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