A Silver Spring man is recovering at home after he was severely beaten while riding his bicycle on a trail that runs through the Eckington section of Northeast D.C.
The victim told police he was attacked without warning and for no apparent reason by a group of teens as he rode north from NoMa.
The man had just finished work and was riding home when he encountered 10 to 15 teenagers walking in the opposite direction.
The 37-year-old Silver Spring resident told FOX 5 by phone one of the teens, a male, broke off from the group and hit him in the face with a closed fist.
Jennifer Gerholdt, who lives in Eckington and uses the trail to ride to and from work, says she passed a group of teens walking down the trail before riding up on the scene of the assault.
"He was lying in the gravel and a couple of people were already at the scene, and one gentleman was encouraging him to stay awake and keep talking,” said Gerholdt. “He looked to be in shock. He didn't seem to be responding.”
Gerholdt took FOX 5 to the section of the trail where it happened and said the cyclist was at first bloody and incoherent.
"The one thing that I did hear him say was someone had asked him, ‘Did they say anything to you?’ And he said, ‘No they didn't," she said.
By the time Gerholdt came upon the scene, she says the teens she had passed were already way down the trail and beyond a curve heading for New York Avenue. She says when the police arrived, they came in cars and on bikes and took off after them.
“(The teens) weren't running. They weren’t going at a fast clip. They were just heading to the Metro, so I didn't think anything of it,” she said.
D.C. police were back on the trail Wednesday looking for anything that might help them identify the attackers.
By phone, the victim told FOX 5 he was riding about 12 miles an hour when a male broke away from the group and struck him in the face before knocking him off his bike.
Then, either the others joined in or tried to pull the attacker away. He is not sure.
People we stopped on the trail said they generally felt safe.
"I usually do feel safe during the daytime,” said Sabine Muscag. “After dark, I usually don’t use it and take the street walking back to the Metro.”
Trail user Joel Ulmer said, "Usually you see bikers and people walking back and forth constantly, never any problems, so to hear that, it’s terrible and surprising too.”
Now Gerholdt and others say they would like to see cameras and even emergency buttons installed on the trail.
In a statement, D.C. police called the attack highly unusual and asked witnesses to come forward.
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