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Guard stabbed at St. Thomas saved by wife/nurse

Posted at 5:10 PM, Apr 06, 2016

Shortly after security guard Art Belcher was stabbed by a patient in the psychiatric ward of Summa St. Thomas Hospital, nurses rushed to his side. One of them happened to be his wife of 27 years, Rhoda.

"Without her, I wouldn't be here," Art Belcher said.

Rhoda kept pressure on her husband's bleeding wounds until he was rushed away for emergency surgery at Akron General Medical Center.

"She has a hard time talking about that even with me, so I know it's tough for her," he said.

Belcher, a Summa security guard for five years, was stabbed seven times in the chest, stomach and chin on the fifth floor of the hospital on Feb. 16.

On Tuesday morning, he did his first interview since the scary incident that nearly took his life.

Akron police said Andrew Wallace, 33, had two knives hidden on him when he was admitted into the psych unit that night.

Art recalled Wallace seemed anxious, but also recognized it was not unusual behavior on the floor.

Moments later, the guard found himself in the middle of an unprovoked attack. The suspect had pulled out both of the knives, according to detectives.

"I remember seeing blood on my hands and on my uniform and that's when I realized he had been stabbing me," Art told newsnet5.com.

Art focused on trying to keep the knife-wielding man away from other staff members, while a nurse named Matt convinced Wallace to put a knife down.

Art said hospital police kept Wallace at bay in another room until Akron police arrived on the scene.

At that point, nurses, including Rhoda Belcher, jumped into action, put in an IV, controlled the bleeding and got Art ready for the trauma unit.

"They were the ones, the instruments that actually saved my life," Art said. "It just shows that the Lord hears peoples' prayers. He kept me from death, rescued me from a violent man."

Art spent about a month in two hospitals--Akron General Medical Center and Summa Akron City-- before he was released to a hero's welcome on March 11.

Friends raised thousands of dollars to help the family with medical expenses by selling "Belcher Brave" wrist bands.

Art, who is also an elder at a Barberton church, receives physical and occupational therapy several times a week and a home health nurse changes his bandages on his chest and abdomen daily.

Doctors have told him to expect to get 80 percent of his strength back. He hopes to return to work, but that could be months away.

"I'm feeling better. I'm getting stronger."

Art also believes Summa took additional security measures in the wake of the incident. A Summa spokesman said the hospital would not discuss security procedures publicly.

Wallace pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to felonious assault and a hearing was scheduled for May 4. He remains in the Summit County Jail on a $250,000 bond.

Art thinks Wallace should go to prison, but if given the chance, the security guard would also deliver a message to the suspect.

"I would hope that he would turn to Christ and be forgiven for his sins."

Reporter Bob Jones' full interview with Art Belcher can be viewed in the video player above.