OSU professor injured in last year’s attack recalls ‘vivid experience’

Dr. William Clark suffered two severe cuts on his right leg when a driver jumped a curb and came out swinging a knife

Dr. William Clark, Ohio State University


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Dr. William Clark is one of 13 people injured last year in a car and knife attack at Ohio State University.

“You probably think about it someway most days,” Clark said. “I mean, it’s a fairly, sort of vivid experience.”

It happened on November 28, the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Clark was among dozens of people who had been evacuated from Watts Hall because of a chemical leak in one of the labs. They were about to go back into the building when a car jumped the curb and crashed into the crowd, including Clark.

“It hit me and it knocked me up into the air and down onto the ground,” he said.

Abdul Razak Ali Artan got out of the car, swinging a knife and charging at people.

Clark said he picked himself up and made his way into the basement of Watts Hall, along with several students.

“I was sitting there, watching the blood pour out of me,” Clark said.

He suffered two severe cuts on his right leg but laughs about it now.

“We’re sitting there and my phone went off and it was my daughter and she said, ‘Dad, they’re talking about a shooter in Watts Hall’ and I said, ‘Well, I’ve got a story to tell you about.’”

Artan was shot and killed by an Ohio State University police officer. Investigators determined it was likely a terrorist-inspired attack.

Clark said he was warned that he might suffer some post-traumatic stress from the incident but as the one year anniversary of the attack approaches, he said that hasn’t happened.

As someone who grew up in Great Britain around the Troubles of Northern Ireland, Clark said he has always been very aware of his surroundings.

“It’s not going to stop me doing anything. You can’t — you can’t let life come to a halt. Otherwise, they win.”

The University declined to discuss specific security tactics or protocols that have changed in the wake of the 2016 attack but spokesman Dan Hedman did provide a statement, detailing examples of changes that have been implemented over the past year:

Ohio State University Police Division recently hired four new police officers, increasing the current sworn officer total from 49 to 53. These officers were funded through sales at Ohio Stadium but are full-time positions that help enhance the overall police presence on our Columbus campus. In addition, OSUPD is in the process of making three more hires that will bring the authorized strength to 56 sworn police officers.

Staffing increases have extended into campus security. The Department of Public Safety approved five security supervisors, adding a total of three more full-time staff. In addition, nine Campus Protection Officers have been hired, bringing the total to 12 CPOs. This expansion allows additional high-visibility patrols of campus to assist with non-emergency, non-criminal service calls for the police division.

Our Emergency Management and Fire Prevention division further formalized and implemented emergency desktop pop-up alerts. When a Buckeye Alert is issued, a pop-up message will appear on network computers in classrooms, computer labs, libraries and a portion of administrative staff offices. As you likely know, the Buckeye Alert System is utilized to inform the campus of emergency situations and is usually sent via text message. This enhanced technology will complement existing alerts and is designed to quickly inform students, faculty and staff of emergency situations when it is determined that the campus community needs to take immediate action to remain safe.

Ohio State’s Surviving an Active Shooter video is part of the new student orientation checklist. Nearly all incoming freshmen watch the video to enhance training and preparedness for a potential active aggressor or emergency situation. In addition, emergency preparedness materials are included in class syllabi and communications about safety resources continue to be shared broadly.

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