Sabatha Tirado, the 25-year-old random stabbing victim of a deranged man, is still coming to terms with the terrifying incident that left New Yorkers shaking their heads last month.
“It seemed like he just had the intention to just hurt someone, and I just happened to be his target unfortunately,” Tirado told NBC 4 New York in an exclusive TV interview.
On the morning of July 17, Tirado stepped out of work to run an errand. She decided to take a different route through the construction in the area when she noticed a stranger on the sidewalk.
“By the time I realize he’s too close for comfort., I see his hand goes up and I feel like stinging in my eye,” she said.
Police believe it was pepper spray that caused her eyes to start stinging.
“Instinctively I raise my hand to my face and then he gets close to me, and I thought he had punched me in the stomach,” said Tirado, who quickly realized it was more than a fist hitting her stomach. “When I look down that’s when I saw the blood, and I realized that he didn’t just punch me, it was a stab wound.”
Dazed and confused, Tirado collapsed on the street and strangers rushed to help her.
“I think New Yorkers get a bad rap, but when it comes to stuff like this people care. They help out,” said Tirado.
That day, Tirado's parents received the phone call every parent dreads.
“I was not going to feel that it was OK until I held my daughter in my arms,” Tirado's mom, Alicia Arroyo told NBC 4 New York. “As a mom you hope that you do instill characteristics, values in your children, and you just hope it never has to be tested.”
Thankfully Arroyo's seeds of wisdom took root and bore a sense of calm in Tirado, a calm that may have saved her life.
“My mom always taught me since I was younger, never panic. Because when you panic you tend to lose sight of what’s going on,” Tirado said.
The stabbing survivor was rushed into surgery. Luckily, the knife had missed her vital organs. Though she is still is experiencing some pain, she is recovering.
Now, Tirado and her mother, a former NYPD officer, are on a mission to keep New Yorkers safe.
"I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. There is no reason why this individual was roaming the streets,” Arroyo said.
Twenty-nine-year-old Curtis Forteau is accused of stabbing Tirado. He was arrested a day after the incident. Police say he has a history of mental illness and a violent rap sheet.
“They let him out in the street without supervision, without oversight, without a system in place to ensure that he’s taking his medication and that the public is safe,” said Arroyo. “It’s the equivalent of taking a gun and placing it into a child’s hand and expecting nothing to go wrong.”
The mother and daughter are now pushing for more action. They want vigilant enforcement of laws like Kendra’s Law, already on the books to help people with mental illnesses get the treatment and oversight they need.
“I think there’s more that can be done and I just want the community to stand behind me, to be just as outraged as I am,” Arroyo said.
For Tirado, living in fear is just not an option.
“I don’t want people to be scared to walk around New York City," she said. "This could happen to anyone."
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