The woman who was stabbed at random by a stranger on the 6 train Monday morning says she doesn't know if she will ever be able to get back on the subway after the trauma.
Heather Burke, 39, was on the northbound train preparing to get off at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue when a 31-year-old woman who police said is homeless suddenly attacked her.
"I stood up to get off the train along with everyone else, and suddenly this woman throws me to the ground and starts hitting me," she told NBC 4 New York. "I remember trying to get away from her. I crawled on the subway floor about 5 feet, and when I stood up, I was covered in blood."
Police said the suspect had lunged at Burke with a knife for no apparent reason.
Passengers tried to restrain the suspect, but she broke free and lunged at Burke again, stabbing her as she tried to get off the train, witnesses told police.
"I didn't even realize I was stabbed until I saw the blood. We didn't know where it was coming from because there was so much of it," said Burke. "And I could tell from everyone's reaction that this was bad.
"People were screaming, crying, telling me I was really, really hurt," Burke recalled.
Burke was able to run into Bloomingdale's for help, where employees administered first aid and called an ambulance.
Riders were able to hold the suspect in the station until police arrived, and she was taken into custody. A knife with a blade 3-4 inches long was recovered.
At the hospital, Burke was told she was "in bad shape" and that she should notify a relative. She hesitated to call her daughter for fear of worrying her, but then thought "this might be her last chance to talk to me."
"I thought I was going to die," said Burke.
Burke had been stabbed in the arm and once in the abdomen, but exploratory surgery at the hospital required three more incisions. The doctors had been worried about possible internal bleeding, but the surgery found none.
The suspect, Ashley Jacob, was charged with assault and is undergoing psychiatric care at Bellevue Hospital, according to officials. Burke said she hoped her alleged attacker stays off the streets and "gets help, because she obviously has issues."
Burke only moved to New York six months ago so that her 18-year-old daughter Taylore could pursue a career in dancing. She is now recovering at home, but getting back to a normal routine will be difficult.
"If you had told me I'm going to walk on the subway on my way to work at 59th and Lex, and get attacked in the middle of the day by a person I've never met, in front of a whole bunch of people for no reason -- hen I hadn't even spoken to her, looked at her, noticed her -- I would never believe you," she said.
"You can feel so safe and so content, and everything seems OK -- and all that is just ripped away," she continued.
"I'm not ready to get back on the subway, and I don't know if I ever will."