I-5 rest stop attack: 'Kudos to mom for protecting her baby'

UPDATE: State police say the woman's story was a hoax. They believe her injuries were self-inflicted. She is scheduled to appear in court in September on one charge of initiating a false report.

Her motive is unclear.

Original story below

WILSONVILLE, Ore. - A woman who was walking with her 3-year-old daughter at a rest area said she was attacked by a stranger who knocked her to the ground, hit her with something and tried to strangle her.

The crime happened around 5 p.m. at the Baldock rest area on southbound I-5 near Wilsonville.

The victim, a 33-year-old Salem woman, told a detective with the Oregon State Police that she had stopped in Wilsonville on personal business and then pulled into the rest area for a break. She said the front lot was pretty busy, so she pulled her vehicle into a rear parking area. She and her daughter then got out and went for a brief walk.

It was during that walk that the victim said a man struck her from behind and knocked her to the ground. She said the man continued to hit her several times with a hard object and then tried to strangle her, all while she covered her daughter to try to protect her child.

The suspect stopped and took off. The woman got a brief look at him as he ran west. She described him as a white man, unknown age, approximately 5 feet, 10 inches tall with a medium build. He was wearing dirty dark pants that were faded and a short-sleeve shirt. From the back, the man's hair appeared to be brown and cut just above the collar.

The child was not hurt in the attack, but the woman did suffer unspecified injuries. She is expected to be OK, but was taken to an area hospital for treatment.

Initial reports had indicated that the attacker tried to abduct the child, but investigators later determined that wasn't the case. Still, the attack left fellow travelers feeling uneasy.

"It's scary," said Beth Medsker, a parent we talked to at the rest area. "They tried it at a rest stop where cops go in and out. Who is to say they're not going to try it at a grocery store or 7-11 down the street?"

"It's surreal that someone would do that," Medsker added. "Kudos to mom for protecting her baby. If it was my son, it wouldn't go without a fight either."

Investigators would like to hear from anyone who was at the rest stop around 5 p.m. and might have seen something. Anyone with information is asked to call the Oregon State Police's Northern Command Center at (800) 452-7888 (in Oregon) or (503) 731-3030.

"It is extremely important to find out who that person is, but we don't have a lot to go on yet," said Lt. Gregg Hastings with the Oregon State Police.