Kelly Herron on Green Lake attack: Seattle isn’t listening to women

Oct 4, 2018, 6:33 AM
Seattle runner, gary steiner, Green Lake attack, Kelly Herron, self-defense...
Kelly Herron fought off Gary Steiner when he assaulted her inside a bathroom at Seattle's Golden Gardens Park in March 2017. (Colleen O'Brien/KIRO Radio)
(Colleen O'Brien/KIRO Radio)

When Kelly Herron, the runner who fought off a rapist at Seattle’s Golden Gardens last year, heard about last Friday’s similar Green Lake attack on 26-year-old runner Maria Ball, and she could not help reliving the trauma of attempted rape.

“It absolutely crushes me,” Herron said.

The news especially devastated Herron, because she said it further reinforced the notion that city leadership is not taking the plight of Seattle’s law-abiding residents seriously — in particular, its female runners.

RELATED: Infamous Golden Gardens attacker has died in prison

“People are hearing it, people are taking some self-defense classes, but that’s not the solution,” she said. “At best, it’s a band-aid. If people are hearing and taking action, they’re not the ones who are running the city, and that’s who should be listening.”

The fact that Seattle’s streets are just as dangerous as they were when Herron was attacked in March of 2017 tells her that the Seattle City Council is not listening.

“They didn’t listen when it happened to me,” Herron said. “They didn’t listen when it happened to my friend.”

After the Green Lake attack, people on Facebook and Twitter have criticized Ball for going on a run there in the first place. Herron said that this is ridiculous, considering that Green Lake is one of the city’s most popular public parks, and puts blame on the attack survivor instead of the city’s leadership.

“If we can’t run at Green Lake, and we can’t run at Golden Gardens, and we can’t run at Carkeek Park … where are we supposed to run?” Herron said.

RELATED: Golden Gardens attack survivor says Seattle’s homeless problem is only getting worse

The one positive to come out of Herron’s traumatic experience was that she found a calling in sharing her story and helping other female runners to learn how to defend themselves. Women from all over the world have written to Herron with their own stories of survival.

She was especially glad to hear from Dori’s interview with Ball that her experience inspired Ball to fight and scream during the Green Lake attack.

“I’m glad that that message is getting out, and I do believe that it is helping and saving people … I’m happy that Maria heard me,” Herron said.

She advises other women to take a self-defense course, role-play attack scenarios, be aware of their surroundings, and — in the event of an incident — note the description of the perpetrator.

“Self-defense is not a guarantee of safety, but it does give you the best chance of survival,” she said. “If you’re in that situation, you need to be able to call on something other than adrenaline and survival instincts. Having those tools in your back pocket are what’s going to save you.”


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Kelly Herron on Green Lake attack: Seattle isn’t listening to women