Runner Stops to Use Restroom at Public Park. Sex-Offender Was Waiting for Her Inside


Kelly Herron started running in November 2015. She had achieved sobriety from her alcohol addiction five months prior and was looking for a healthy way to spend her time.

Her New Year’s resolution in 2016 was to run a race every month. She planned on running many races, but did not plan on the race to save her own life from an attack.

On March 5, 2017, Herron was training for her upcoming marathon with a 10-mile run at the popular Golden Gardens Park.

She decided to take a bathroom break four miles into the run at the public restroom.

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A man by the name of Gary Steiner was hiding in a stall. He was already a registered sex offender in Arizona.

While drying her hands, Herron got a bad feeling. Sure enough, she saw Steiner, who was no longer hiding and ready to attack.

Little did he know that the woman he targeted was ready to fight back. This attack occurred three weeks after she took a self-defense class her workplace offered.

Steiner fought her to the floor, tried to take off her pants, and used his hand to beat her in the face after she tried locking herself in the stall.

Herron told Runner’s World, “Time stopped, the room became bigger and my life flashed before my eyes.”

Phrases from the self-defense class also flashed through her mind. “This doesn’t have to be a fair fight,” and “put hard bones in soft fleshy places.”

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Herron courageously screamed at him, scratched his face, and punched back. According to Runner’s World, her compression pants made it easier for her to escape “almost serpentine-like” as she crawled out from under the stall.

Once she managed to get out of the bathroom, a passerby with a carabiner heard her calls for help. They used the carabiner to lock the attacker in the bathroom until police arrived.

Steiner faced charges of attempted rape in the second degree and second degree assault. Herron had to face the fact that her “biggest running nightmare became a reality,” according to an Instagram post she wrote after the attack.

She recounted what happened with the conclusion: “My face is stitched, my body is bruised, but my spirit is intact.” She posted an image of two powerful pictures side-by-side.

On the left is an aerial view of the park and bathroom with the red lines representing her GPS tracker’s record of her movement. On the right is a photo of her injuries.

A few days later, Herron posted, “I couldn’t remain the silent, anonymous victim — there is a message of survival that is too important to remain untold.” Jordan Giarratano, Fighting Chance Seattle self-defense instructor, shared with ABC News that part of the message of survival is responding right away, fighting hard, being loud, hitting with an open hand, and using your intuition.

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Carolyn Fultz is a former contributor for Liftable Media. She holds a B.A. in Communication from Hope College.
Carolyn Fultz is a former contributor for Liftable Media. She holds a B.A. in Communication from Hope College. Carolyn's writing has been featured in both online and print media, including Just Between Us magazine. She resides in Phoenix with her husband and children.
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