OAKLAND (KCBS) — A good samaritan who rushed to help a high-school student who was set on fire aboard an AC Transit bus earlier this month told his side of the story Wednesday at a "Transgender Day Of Remembrance" in Oakland.
When Luke Sasha Fleischman fell asleep on the Number 57 Bus on the way home from school, he woke up with his skirt on fire. He jumped off the bus in a panic as Dan Gale, a 53-year-old construction worker, said other riders either laughed or ran the other way.
"There was somebody on fire that needed help and I turned and got up and as other people were running away from him, I worked my way towards him and pulled him toward the ground. Me and another man helped smother him out," he said.
"I just grabbed the skirt and yanked it off him."
Fleishman suffered second and third-degree burns and continues to get skin grafts.
Meanwhile 16-year-old Richard Thomas of Oakland is facing hate crime charges for the attack. Police say he targeted Fleishman because he was wearing a skirt.
Thomas's attorney says the whole thing was a prank gone wrong. But Gale, who was in Oakland for a Transgender Day of Remembrance on Wednesday, said that's no excuse and that kids should be taught tolerance.
Good Samaritan Who Helped Teen Set On Fire Speaks Out
"People are people. Let them be alone. Let them do what they want; it doesn't matter. However someone wants to dress, let them dress—who cares?" he said.
"In fact, he was probably dressed better than I was on the bus at the time."
Gale said he hopes that Fleishman heals, and that he's sorry he couldn't get to him faster.
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