78ºF

Police search for man in attempted sexual assault at Livonia park

LIVONIA, Mich. – A terrifying jog and a night at the park turned into a nightmare for a woman who was attacked by a stranger.

The woman went for a run at Edward Hines Park in Livonia Sunday night when a man wrapped his arms around her neck and struck her in the face.

He wasn't going to stop there.

The woman told police her attacker grabbed her from behind while walking on the path. But she refused to give up. She punched and kicked, fighting off the man. Now those who walk at the park are watching over their shoulders.

There's normally just wildlife lurking around the park, but joggers along the path are spreading the word about the attack.

"A lady who was riding a bike stopped me and asked me if I heard about the attack incident," jogger Haishan Montroud said.

The woman had just passed a section of the path that goes off the main road. The man was walking in the opposite direction and moved in quickly on the 28-year-old.

"He told her he wanted to have sex with her," said Robert Nenciarini, of Livonia police. "He grabbed her around the head with his arm and started to drag her toward the river. And she began fighting back and broke away."

Over at the Ambrose Academy of Wing Chun, they teach women how to fend off an attacker.

"(Aim for) the eyes, the throat, the groin and the knees," an instructor said.

Instructors Rocco and Elizabeth Ambrose said those four areas are key to getting away if someone is being attacked from the front.

"If the choke is on, I would target the throat," Rocco said.

"I'm going to make some distance (if attacked from behind)," Elizabeth said. "I'm going to pound him, and since he's down like this, his eyes are the next thing I have."

The objective is to deflect the attention enough to run away. Police said the woman on the path kept fighting.

"In this particular case, that was probably the right thing to do," Nenciarini said. "That was enough to scare him away."

The woman was able to break free and run to a passing car, where she called for help. Until the man is caught, there will be increased patrols in the area. Police are also reminding women and men to walk in pairs.