33-year-old Salem woman and child attacked at Baldock Rest Area
A 33-year-old Salem woman was allegedly assaulted at the rest area just south of Wilsonville. First reported as an attempted abduction Friday afternoon, police are now considering the event as an assault.
On Aug. 16, at approximately 5 p.m., a report was received regarding a man beating a woman with a child at the southbound Interstate 5 Baldock Rest Area. Officers from Oregon State Police, Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, Wilsonville Police Department and Canby Police Department responded to the rest area. Entrance and exit ramps were blocked as officers, assisted by a K-9 unit on the ground and a Clackamas County airplane, searched the area where the suspect reportedly fled west.
The 33-year old Salem woman was transported by ambulance to a local hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. Her name, the exact nature of her injuries and the name of the hospital are not released at this time. She was expected to remain hospitalized at least overnight.
The woman told an OSP detective that she stopped in Wilsonville on personal business and then went to the rest area for a brief stop. She said the front lot was busy so she pulled her vehicle into the rear parking area where she and her daughter got out and went for a brief walk. As they entered the grassy, treed area she was suddenly struck from behind and knocked to the ground. She covered her daughter as the suspect struck her several times with an unknown hard object and then tried to strangle her, according to police.
For an unknown reason, the suspect stopped the assault and ran west. The victim got a brief look as the suspect ran away and described him as a white male, unknown age, approximately 5 feet 10 inches and medium build. He was wearing faded, dirty dark pants and an unknown color short-sleeve shirt. His hair from the back looked brown in color, cut above the collar.
The child was not hurt. A family member came and transported her from the scene.
Though the incident was first reported as an attempted child abduction, police have found no evidence to confirm it. OSP is continuing the investigation and search for the suspect in the alleged assault Friday afternoon.
Oregon Travel Experience (OTE) rest area operations personnel were asked by law enforcement to help at the rest area's crime staging area following the incident. Staff followed established protocol and provided assistance as requested.
OTE Director of Rest Area Operations Jason Nash was present during the search for the perpetrator.
"Baldock is a large, nearly 55-acre parcel of heavily wooded grounds, similar to a small state park," Nash said. "It takes a lot of boots on the ground to search and secure.
"More than 2 million travelers have used Baldock rest area in the last seven months, including 406,000 in the month of July. Nash said it is the most heavily used rest area on I-5.
"A busy rest area like Baldock is almost like a small city," Nash said. "With that many people passing through one area, there are bound to be a few folks who engage in less than law-abiding activity."
Nash said OTE and OSP work together to diminish criminal activity within OTE's rest areas. OSP Lt. Gregg Hastings noted that crime in the Baldock rest area has dipped significantly since OTE has initiated their onsite management.
Oregon Travel Experience's CEO Kyle Walker asked travelers to remain vigilant.
"OTE is always mindful and concerned about the safety of the motoring public and rest area users," said Walker. "As a woman who travels frequently myself, this incident is a reminder that crime can occur anywhere, at any time. I would urge travelers to exercise good judgment when leaving their vehicles and using large wooded areas such as Baldock."
"The back lot where the victim parked is more remote than the parking area near the highway," said Nash. "Because of the high traffic count at this rest stop, it can be difficult to find space at the more visible front lot."
Access to the rest area was closed about 90 minutes. ODOT and Oregon Travel Experience personnel were on scene to help as needed.
Anyone at the rest area who may have witnessed this crime but didn't speak to OSP is asked to call the OSP Northern Command Center at 800-452-7888 (in Oregon) or 503-731-3030.
"We are always looking for ways to improve safety and convenience for our travelers," said Nash, "and are extremely grateful that the two victims involved in this incident will recover and are now safe with family. I am confident that the person responsible for the assault will be apprehended."
Oregon Travel Experience offers safety tips
- Stop, look and listen: Be aware of your immediate surroundings and any unknown persons.
- Park in an area that is well lighted and where other people are around.
- Never leave valuables in your car such as cellphones and purses.
- Lock your vehicle when you leave it unattended.
- Before you exit the restrooms, check to make sure you have all your belongings.
- Avoid walking in unlighted or isolated areas.
- If you are followed or threatened, call for help. (Shout or scream for help, and call 911.)
- Avoid carrying large sums of cash.
- Check your surroundings before exiting your vehicle, and if suspicious activity is noted, remain in your car with the doors locked. Notify law enforcement if possible from your cellphone.
- Do not stand close to strangers asking for directions.