FLINT, Mich. (WOOD) — A police officer attacked Wednesday at Flint’s Bishop International Airport may have been a few millimeters away from death, based on a doctor’s assessment Friday.
Dr. Donald Scholten of Hurley Medical Center’s Level 1 Trauma Team said the knife wound to Lt. Jeff Neville was about 12 inches, extending from his Adam’s apple to the back side of his neck.
Scholten said the cut was “probably very, very close to severing his major artery and nerve, perhaps his windpipe and digestive system.”
“This was a matter of millimeters, if you will. A matter of very, very small dimensions,” Scholten added.
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Scholten said the hospital got the call about the attack on Neville at 9:52 a.m. Wednesday. Four minutes later, the hospital was notified Neville “was alert… but in some distress” and first responders were working to control his bleeding. Neville arrived at the emergency department at 10:02 a.m., Scholten said.
Scholten said Neville was unusually calm, cooperative and appeared to understand the situation, likely because of his long-term training as an officer.
Neville went in for surgery at 10:06 a.m., according to Scholten. Doctors determined his salivary glands and some blood vessels were injured, but the cut missed his jugular vein and carotid artery. His trachea and esophogus were also not injured, according to Scholten.
Scholten said Neville had blood transfusions as the medical team repaired damaged muscles and his blood vessels. The operation took more than 50 stitches and was completed around 12:10 p.m., according to Scholten.
Scholten said Neville still has significant swelling, but he is healing.
Dr. Leo Mercer said Friday morning he expected Neville to be released from the hospital within the next 24 to 48 hours, but the officer would be in the hospital “not one second longer than he needs to be.”
Amor Ftouhi is charged in the attack. The 49-year-old Ftouhi is a Canadian from Tunisia.
Investigators are working to learn more about Ftouhi, whom they describe as a lone-wolf attacker.
David Gelios, head of the FBI in Detroit, said Ftouhi unsuccessfully tried to buy a gun once he arrived in the U.S., but instead managed to buy a knife.