Stabbing victim helps police create suspects' sketches

Drake says he's thankful for support from the community and beyond

Posted: Friday, January 16, 2004

While the cab driver attacked during a robbery last week has left the hospital and is putting his life back together, Juneau Police released sketches Thursday based on his descriptions of the people responsible.

A man stabbed Eric Drake repeatedly at about 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 7, while leaving the cab with a female accomplice. The suspects ran from the cab, idling near the Super 8 Motel on Trout Street, toward James Boulevard in the Mendenhall Valley, police said.

Sgt. Troy Wilson said he would like to think the robbers are still in Juneau.

Capt. Tom Porter said police didn't develop sketches of the suspects immediately after the crime, because Drake's condition was a higher priority.

"Quite frankly, he's lucky to be alive," Porter said.

On his way to therapy Wednesday for his recovering hands, Drake, 37, said he felt lucky to be alive. He is happy and surprised with the help he's received from the community and the notes of support he's received from all over the world.

"This isn't going to break me," he said. "I'm going to make it."

On Jan. 7, Drake had about eight hours of surgery, more than six hours of it devoted to putting his hands back together.

"My short-term goal is getting my fingers functioning," he said.

He said he is improving physically. He is walking. Still, he can only work the television remote control if it is lying flat and he can push the buttons with his left thumb.

Emotionally, he said, the nightmares continue. Before he left the hospital, a doctor gave him sleeping pills to help. But when he sleeps, he often relives the attack.

Drake said he was buckled in when he was stabbed numerous times by a passenger in the back seat of his cab. The woman watched from the front seat.

Police said Thursday that based on Drake's description, they believe the man stood 5 feet, 8 inches to 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighed about 160 pounds. He was wearing baggy blue jeans and a gray, hooded pullover sweatshirt.

The woman was described as standing 5 feet, 7 inches, weighing 170 pounds and wearing blue jeans and a gray hooded sweatshirt.

Wilson said many in the community have been calling with possible leads.

"We encourage those people to continue to do that," he added. Every tip from the community will be tracked down, he said.

"Everyone's mad, who I've met," Drake said. "The cab drivers are scared. He's still out there."

Since he has been home, people have been calling and stopping by. Many have been bringing food. The Mormon Church has been cooking dinners for his family and will continue doing that through Sunday.

"That's helped a lot," he said.

Maria Miller, Drake's fiancé, said others have been visiting frequently and have been doing what they can.

Many people have read news of the attack on the Empire's Web site, he said. Drake said the family has been hearing from people wishing them well "from all over the world. I haven't had time to read them all."

He said he will read them all and is both touched and surprised by the support.

"I'm a quiet guy," he said. "I pretty much keep to myself."

He drove a cab for about two years. Before that, he worked in the grocery industry. He worked for Alaska & Proud and its predecessor, Foodland. He was the night manager at Super Bear in the Mendenhall Valley for five years.

He said his next job will depend on how well his hands end up working. He doesn't expect to drive a cab again.

"I definitely have to think about something else to do," he said.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.



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