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Originally published October 13, 2010 at 7:35 PM | Page modified October 14, 2010 at 6:31 AM

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Seward Park jogger to attacker: 'Not me, not here'

The moment the jogger in Seattle's Seward Park saw him, her intuition told her something wasn't right. When he attacked, she instinctively fought back.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Seward Park attack

Anyone with information on the attacker is asked to call the Seattle Police Sexual Assault Unit, 206-684-5575, or 911. Police say the man should be considered armed and dangerous.

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The moment she saw him, her intuition told her something wasn't right.

When he attacked, she instinctively fought back.

"I told him, 'Not me, not here, not now,' " the 55-year-old Seattle woman recalled Wednesday, two days after she was attacked by a stranger during an evening jog in Seward Park.

According to Seattle police, the woman was grabbed from behind by a young man armed with a knife. He threw her to the ground and repeatedly punched her, police said.

As she fought back, another man heard her screams and rushed to the scene, scaring off the attacker, police said.

The woman suffered a broken nose and facial fractures, but otherwise said she "was not severely injured."

"I'm sore. I'm not recovered yet. I haven't even stepped outside yet. My face is swollen," said the woman, who spent a day in the hospital before being allowed to return home.

The Seattle Times is not naming the woman to protect her identity.

She helped Seattle police detectives come up with a sketch of the suspect, described as a black male with a light complexion, 16 to 25 years old with short hair and a "baby face." Police say the man could have a human bite mark on one of his arms.

The woman, a 28-year resident of the Seward Park neighborhood who visits the park several times a week, declined to discuss the attack in detail because she does not want to jeopardize the police investigation. But she encouraged other women who find themselves in a similar situation to trust their intuition and do whatever it takes to fend off an attacker.

"You've got to fight for your life, for sure," said the woman, who is married and has two grown children.

On Monday, a beautiful fall day, the woman said she finished work and left home for a jog about 6 p.m., a little later than normal. She decided to cut her usual hourlong run short because she knew the daylight wouldn't last.

"I wouldn't go through the park at that time in the winter," she said. "I'm very aware, totally aware, when I go out. I'm always looking around me and I say hello to everybody I see when I go jogging."

She ran to the point at the north end of Seward Park. Feeling good, she said she decided to hit a nearby wooded trail for a quick sprint up a small hill before turning around and heading home.

The hill "isn't that steep but if you sprint it, it's a good workout," said the woman, who used to compete in triathlons and regularly cross-trains.

She had run maybe 100 yards on the trail when she saw the man: "My intuition said to get back out of the woods because I didn't like the look of him," she said. "... I had a gut feeling immediately that something wasn't right."

She said she had already turned around to run back the way she'd come when he attacked.

She has no idea how long the attack lasted but said she fought back and "just screamed at the top of my lungs." She's never taken a self-defense class, but said her athleticism "played the most important part of all because I had to use my own strength and skill."

The man who came to her aid and helped her up "was very calm," the woman said. "He was just an angel."

He escorted her back to the main path, where two women — a mother and a daughter — wrapped their arms around the woman "and graciously just held me up while we waited for the ambulance to come," she said.

The woman said she is confident police will find her attacker.

"I feel protected by them," she said of the Seattle officers involved in her case. "They were so good to me and I think they'll catch him."

In the meantime, she said she and her neighbors are organizing a self-defense class for women in Seward Park, which they hope to offer in coming weeks.

In the future, "I'll probably avoid that trail on my own but if I'm with friends, I will use it," she said. "I'm not fearful ... I'm not afraid."

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or sgreen@seattletimes.com

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