Real Life

Real Life: 17-year-old girl randomly stabbed 12 times by schizophrenic stranger

“I had 12 stab wounds and one of of them had narrowly missed my heart.”

By Take 5 team

Alexis Felstein, 19, shares her true life story:

Mum stopped the car outside my friend Lizzy's house.
"Call if you need a lift home later," she said. I was 17, in Year 11, and had come to Lizzy's for a party.
I followed the blaring music to the backyard and joined my friends. After a couple of bourbon and Cokes, I'd had enough.
I told Lizzie at about midnight I was going to walk home, she wasn't happy about it but I insisted. I knew Mum would pick me up if I called her but it was late and she had to work at 6am.
"I'll be right, see you on Monday," I told Lizzy.I put my headphones on and started walking.
The main street through Lismore was well lit even though it was empty and the shops were shut. As I walked past the City Hall, a car pulled up ahead; A man was behind the wheel.
Photo credit: Getty
Something about the way he was staring made me feel uneasy, then he got out of the car.
He started running directly at me and I froze in shock.
He's going to rape me, I thought, petrified. I looked around but the street was deserted.
Terror stole my voice. I couldn't even scream. He ran at me and I saw a flash of metal, he was holding a knife.
The blade swooshed as he stabbed me in the chest and blood gushed over my white singlet.
I gasped.
"Oh God, I'm going to die."
I gaped in horror at my attacker. He was a big bloke and looked dead behind the eyes. He kept stabbing me on my arms and my face.
I fell to the ground and tried to curl up into a ball to protect myself. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a taxi screeching to a halt a few metres away.
The driver leapt out and started shouting at my attacker.
"I thought I was going to die"
He ran off and somehow I managed to drag myself to the taxi and crawl into the back seat. The driver gasped at the sight of me; my singlet and denim shorts were soaked in blood but I didn't feel any pain.
"Am I going to die?" I asked him, weakly.
"No love, I'm calling for help," he replied, shakily. Then everything went black.
I came to in Lismore hospital, with doctors and nurses swarming around me.
"You're going to be okay," a doctor said.
Later, Mum, my dad and brother Nathan, 18, were by my side as my doctor listed my injuries. I had 12 stab wounds and one of them had narrowly missed my heart.
My right arm had been so badly hacked up, the tendons and nerves were sliced through.
My attacker had landed a blow on my face, slashing my lip and chopping my tongue in half - it was a miracle I could still talk. I also had a stab wound to my skull so deep it had pierced my brain, just missing an artery.
I'd need extensive surgery to repair the damage and physio to be able to use my right hand again.
"You're lucky to be alive," the doctor said.
Police came and said they'd caught my attacker, a person named Joseph Carter, who had schizophrenia. They caught up with him as he was fleeing the scene in his car, before he crashed it into a roundabout.
Police had found the filleting knife he'd used to stab me in the car and he'd been charged with attempted murder and grievous bodily harm.
Alexis' right arm had been badly slashed.
Healed scars on Alexis' right arm.
Later that day, the cabbie came to visit me with a card and flowers. "I'm glad you're going to be okay," he said, "I'm Brett by the way."
"Thank you for saving my life," I told him, "If you hadn't been there, I might not have made it. You're a hero."
Brett was shaken up by what had happened. "You're the bravest girl I ever met," he said, "You're the real hero."
The next day the adrenaline had worn off and I realised how close I'd come to death. I had four operations to repair the damage and was in hospital for a month.
In court, Joseph Carter pleaded not guilty, claiming mental health issues. He said he'd been plotting to kill someone for 18 months before the night he attacked me.
I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The judge didn't buy that as a defense and he was found guilty of causing wounding, grievous bodily harm with intent to murder and not stopping during a police pursuit. He was sentenced to 20 years' jail.
I was so relieved, at least now there was no chance of Carter hurting anyone else.
As for me, I know I've had a lucky escape. I owe my life to the cabbie who saved me.
Thankfully I've made a full recovery and I'm hoping to train as a nurse next year.
Random attacks by strangers are rare, but they can happen.

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