by Briana Gerdeman
Ed. Note: Due to a production error, a portion of this article was deleted from last week’s story. Here it is in its entirety
A woman was attacked by an unknown man on the North Creek Regional Trail in Bothell. At around 2 p.m., the man grabbed her shoulders from behind, pushed her to the ground, beat her and covered her mouth with his hand. When she screamed and hit him back, he eventually fled.
Bothell Police searched the area and didn’t find the attacker. The woman, who wasn’t seriously hurt, never saw his face or heard his voice.
* * *
This sounds like a typical, though still disturbing, news story I would write about a crime.
But this time, one thing was different: I was the one attacked.
On Dec. 13, I was walking alone on the North Creek Regional Trail that runs through the office park in Bothell.
I had just passed one of the sports fields when I felt someone’s hands on my shoulders. I thought maybe a friend had spotted me and was trying to surprise me by sneaking up on me.
When he pushed me to the ground, I knew it wasn’t a joke.
I hit him back, screamed at him to get off me and tried to get out from under him. He covered my mouth and tried to hold me down.
I kept hitting him and screaming. Finally, after about a minute, he got off me and ran away.
As I sat up, I saw that he was wearing jeans and a black parka, with the hood up.
He was a bit shorter than I, maybe 5’8", and had a medium build. I never saw his face, and he didn’t say anything to me.
I got up and scrambled to the nearest building, looking over my shoulder to make sure he wasn’t coming back. The woman who greeted me there called the police.
It surprised me how calm I felt following the assault. I felt proud, that I was able to defend myself, and angry, that it might not be safe for me to walk and exercise outside. But mostly, I was grateful it hadn’t ended differently.
As police searched outside for the attacker, one officer interviewed me about what happened.
Although they didn’t find the assailant immediately, Detective Dione Thompson with the Bothell Police Department said police "are following up on every possible lead."
Last week, police contacted a "person of interest" who was seen a few hours after the assault at CrossFit Bothell. He matched the clothing description, was behaving oddly and didn’t seem to belong in a gym, Thompson said.
But after police talked to him, he was exonerated when other people confirmed he had been at work at the time of the assault, said Sgt. Clint Beck with the Bothell Police Department.
I would have thought that an attack under such circumstances — during daylight, on a weekday, in a public place, by a stranger — would be rare, and the police confirmed that.
"This is a pretty unique thing in Bothell," Thompson said.
She added, "There are hundreds of people who walk that trail every week, and that’s why I feel like it’s an isolated incident."
Still, she urged the public to be careful and to report suspicious behavior by calling 911.
"The message is universal precaution," Thompson said. "If you can, walk in twos. If you can, walk in more visible areas."