Bus rider who broke his cane defending RideKC driver receives tearful thanks

Rodney Goldman didn’t think twice about coming to the defense of a RideKC bus driver he saw struggling against an attacker early Saturday.

The 56-year-old Goldman, a frequent rider on the bus, knew the driver by sight but not by name. Regardless, he was raised not to stand for anyone mistreating a woman, and when he saw a disturbed passenger holding the female driver in a headlock, Goldman beat the attacker with his cane until it broke.

“My adrenaline kicked in, and I did what I had to do,” Goldman said later in an interview. “I just got my cane.”

On Monday, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority officials identified Goldman publicly to present him with two new canes free of charge, a lifetime bus pass and a thank you card signed by numerous transit workers. The bus driver, Lynn Judge, went with Goldman when he picked up the canes at Doctors Equipment Services, 6021 Troost Ave., to thank him in person.

Judge said she was still shaken up by the attack and hasn’t returned to work yet. A driver for three years, her parents were both longtime KCATA workers. She said she was afraid to think of what would have happened to her if Goldman hadn’t intervened.

The attack, which was caught on surveillance video, occurred about 12:30 a.m. Saturday. Judge was driving the bus south near 35th Street and Troost when she realized a male passenger had walked up behind her. The man balled up his fists and muttered something. Then he grabbed her. Judge looked up and into the man’s eyes.

“He kind of looked like he was mad, very upset,” Judge said. Then the man put her in a headlock while she was trying to pull the bus over. “I was just screaming and screaming. I didn’t know if the guy had a knife or a gun. I didn’t know what he was going to do.”

Goldman sprang into action, hitting the attacker with his cane about five times, allowing Judge to escape. Judge had radioed for help, and a bystander called police, who arrived within minutes. Officers took a suspect into custody. Prosecutors have not yet announced whether the man will be charged.

Over the weekend, transit officials identified Goldman as the good Samaritan and sought him out to thank him. Officials intended to buy the two new canes for Goldman, but on Monday the medical supply company surprised everyone by donating them: one a metal, adjustable model, the other a simple wooden cane specially cut to fit Goldman’s stature.

Goldman, who is partially disabled, stood with difficulty and tested one of them out Monday after taking questions from the press.

Since video of the bus attack has circulated in the media, Goldman said he’s been recognized around town by motorists who honk their horns and shout “Right on!” as they pass by. A group of ladies bought him a meal at Burger King.

Judge grew tearful Monday as she thanked Goldman. She said she was glad he didn’t get hurt while helping her. “I’m just really, really thankful for him, because he put my life first,” she said.

Goldman said he doesn’t think of himself as a hero but that he did what he thought was right. Feeling the heft of his new metal cane, Goldman said he will watch out for Judge.

“I’m going to be on the bus,” he said. “And if it happens again, I’m going to do the same thing.”