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Hatchet-wielding hitchhiker in viral video claims to be from W.Va.

Disclaimer: Video contains very strong language:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckfBGdZoR_0

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A homeless drifter claiming to be from Raleigh County is gaining national attention after police said he saved several people from an attacker on a racist tirade in California.

Fox affiliate KMPH interviewed the man, identified only as "Kai," in a video that has been viewed online more than one million times.

Kai winked when he told a reporter he was from Sophia, W.Va., and did not give a last name.

According to media outlets, Kai had been hitchhiking through Fresno County, California on Saturday when he caught a ride from Jett Simmons McBride, 54, of Tacoma, Calif.

At some point, McBride drove his truck toward a Pacific Gas and Electric worksite in Fresno and began making racist remarks, according to media outlets. McBride allegedly rammed his truck into a black man there and pinned the man between two nearby vehicles.

Fresno County sheriff's deputies said McBride got out of his truck and began beating the pinned man and others who tried to help.

In an expletive-filled interview quickly going viral, Kai said, "Two women were trying to help [the victim] and he runs up and grabs one of them. A guy that big can snap a woman's neck like a pencil stick."

Kai said he decided to go behind McBride and hit him in the head with a hatchet.

Kai eventually knocked out McBride, who is described as 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighing about 290 pounds, according to jail records. Police arrested McBride and charged him with attempted first-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. He was being held in police custody on Tuesday.

The PG&E worker was taken to a nearby hospital with a broken leg and will recover, according to The News Tribune, a Fresno newspaper. Kai was questioned by sheriff's deputies and later released.

Kai said he's been hitchhiking and riding railcars around California in search of big waves to surf.

When asked why he was so selfless, Kai said, "I don't have any family. As far as anybody I grew up with knows, I'm already dead. So whatever."

Sophia is also the hometown of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., the nation's longest-serving member of Congress.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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