VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — It took doctors five hours to patch up Caleb Tatner’s eight stab wounds with 68 staples from his abdomen to his arm and shoulder, according to family members now watching over his recovery in the Intensive Care Unit at Virginia Beach General Hospital.
“They had to suture his bowels … he completely punctured his kidney,” said Emily Tatner, Caleb’s sister. “He has a family that cares about him and I almost lost my brother.”
Police say Tatner, 26, was stabbed around 2 a.m. on Monday at a bus stop near 19th Street and Arctic Avenue.
Emily says he was walking from a bar on 22nd Street back to the DoubleTree hotel near the Virginia Beach Convention Center. She says their family is visiting Virginia Beach from West Virginia.
“If they were even five minutes later, the surgeon said that Caleb would have bled out on the scene,” said Emily. “Before they could even put him in an ambulance, they had to give him two packs of blood and one pack of plasma because he was bleeding out.”
Officers say they quickly arrested Alvin Smith, 57, and charged him with malicious wounding.
Smith told 10 On Your Side from jail on Tuesday that he is homeless and was minding his business at the bus stop when Tatner approached. He says Tatner ignored his repeated requests to back up.
“I told him three or four times, ‘man, get up off me,'” said Smith. “He just kept coming at me. I tried to push him off me. I had the knife in my hands. I was trying to get away from him.”
Smith said he didn’t realize that he was stabbing Tatner until he felt his blood on his face.
“I was really in fear. Maybe I didn’t know. I was trying to push him away,” Smith said. “It was a mistake and I did not mean to do that to him.”
In talking with her brother from the hospital, Emily says he doesn’t remember speaking to Smith or any kind of argument.
“I asked him specifically, I said, ‘Did you speak to him? Did you get into a quarrel or anything? He told me ‘no,'” she said. “If they did fight, Caleb doesn’t have any recollection of it.”
Emily says her brother should be able to start walking again on Wednesday and he should get out of the ICU by the end of the week.
Smith remains in the city jail with no bond.
If you would like to contribute to the family’s online fundraising page, click here.