Survivor of Golden Gardens attack shares her story

by: Siemny Kim Updated:

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Kelly Herron may be battered and bruised, but she is not broken.

“I’m processing all of it,” Herron said. “I’m really grateful I survived.”

Herron shared pictures of what she looked like immediately after one of the scariest moments of her life.

She returned to Golden Gardens Park Wednesday for the first time since she was attacked in the restroom Sunday.

“I was here, dried my hands and then, was cornered,” she recounted.

Police say 40-year-old Gary Steiner was hiding out in a stall and attacked her.

But Herron wasn't going down without a fight.

“We’re down on the ground,” Herron explained. “This is where I was clawing his face and screaming at him.”

They wrestled and she rolled into the next stall, jamming the door shut with her leg.

“Then I thought, once I got under here, I would be safe,” she said.

But he followed her.

“(He was) beating me up and I was able to pull myself. I was on my back; I pulled myself out this way. That’s when I took the worst blow to the head and came out this way,” she added.

At that point, she was able to run out, and others helped lock Steiner inside the restroom.

She credits her survival to a self-defense class taught by Fighting Chance Seattle.

In that moment, her two-hour class, taken just three weeks ago, all came back to her. 

“I was screaming at him,'not today, (expletive)'" she said. “Being loud and not afraid. I mean you are afraid, but letting him know you are not taking me down today. You are not going to win this fight.”

She didn’t know Steiner’s extensive criminal history - a level 3 sex offender who was convicted of assaulting several women in Arizona.

All she knew, was that she couldn’t let him win.

“That was the only thing that was motivating me ... I cannot be raped by this guy in this place,” Herron added.

And she wants other women to be empowered with the same knowledge she has.

She rejects being called a victim.

“We don’t have to go down,” she said. “We don’t have to be quiet about it.”

The self-defense class was scheduled by her employer, RealSelf, and she urges other companies to do the same.

Steiner was charged with attempted rape and second-degree assault.