EXCLUSIVE: Good Samaritan who saved woman on UBC campus thankful to have helped
The Good Samaritan left bleeding in the basement of a UBC campus building by an unknown assailant last week is just happy she was able to help the other woman get away.
Speaking exclusively to Global News, the woman, who we are calling “Diana” to protect her identity, said she’s more concerned with that stranger’s well-being than her multiple injuries — and hopes that woman comes forward and identifies the suspect, who remains at large.
“I hope that she’s at least safe and is uninjured,” she said. “I don’t blame her for running. She did what she had to do to escape.
“Yes, I got injured, but I’d rather that I got injured than that no one came and helped that woman.”
Diana also wants to be clear that not only is she not a victim, she was able to fight off her attacker and survive by using skills she learned after previous traumatic experiences. Those skills and knowledge, she says, should be made accessible to all students and staff on campus.
“It would make the community safer if you provide more people with that knowledge,” she said.
‘He was intent on killing me’
Diana said she was going to the basement of the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing building within the Forest Sciences Centre complex the afternoon of March 7 to access one of the storage rooms.
As she turned the corner, she saw the suspect yelling at and threatening a woman with a weapon. Police have since said they believe it was “a domestic dispute.”
WATCH: (Aired March 8) Jill Bennett reports on the police investigation into the assault
“I just asked something along the lines of, ‘Is everything OK here?,'” she said. “The man reacted very violently at being interrupted, and turned his attention from [the other woman] and started to attack me.”
Diana said rather than intervening, she was surprised that her mere presence quickly sparked such a rage — and that the attacker had more on his mind than scaring her away.
“The things he was saying to me, it was very clear that he wasn’t just trying to frighten me, he wasn’t just trying to injure me. He was intent on causing me severe injury or killing me.”
Things only got worse after Diana managed to disarm the man and throw the weapon away from the nearest exit in hopes that he would go after it, giving her a chance to escape. Instead, he continued to attack.
“He slammed me forcefully against the wall, and I hit my head very hard against the cement wall,” she said, sustaining a concussion in the process.
“Then he started strangling me. That’s when I started to fight back as hard as I possibly could.”
She eventually landed a blow hard enough to cause the man to back off and run away.
Diana said she used personal belongings along with her own self-defence skills to block several blows and attacks with the weapon, but she still sustained several other injuries to her neck, arms and ribs. The injuries were enough to cause her to black out shortly as the man left.
“Sometime after that, I woke up and realized I was bleeding and quite injured,” Diana said. She then used her own phone to call University RCMP, who found her some time later thanks to the detailed instructions she gave while drifting in and out of consciousness.
Diana was also able to use the extensive first-aid training she’s received over the years to staunch her own bleeding before first responders arrived and took her to hospital.
Preparing students and staff
Diana said the first aid and self-defence skills that saved both her life and the other woman should be made more available for students and staff on campus.
“It would be incredibly important, not just for people in a situation like this, but just for the general comfort and confidence of young people,” she said. “Whether they have to use those skills or not, they’d know they’re prepared.”
The ability to provide first aid on yourself, as well as on others, is also a valuable skill that more people on campus should have, Diana said.
“The more people that know first aid, the better,” she said. “Whether it’s a fight, an attack situation, or even a natural disaster, the more people capable of providing aid, the safer everyone will be.”
She said most first aid and self-defence courses can be cost-prohibitive to students, however, which is why she thinks the university could benefit by providing that training either for free or at a discounted rate.
UBC said they commended Diana’s actions while agreeing her skills should be learned by more members of the university community.
“It was an incredibly brave thing to do, what this woman did,” said Andrew Parr, UBC’s interim vice president of students, adding the skills that Diana used can be learned on campus through free residence-led programs as well as classes run by the athletics department.
“Awareness is certainly something we always have to strive for, making sure everyone’s aware of the programming that’s available and having access to those programs,” Parr said.
Diana has brought up other concerns about the way the campus is prepared in case of an assault or an attack, including the information University RCMP have about the various buildings in order to navigate their floor plans and find victims quickly. But she’s clear she doesn’t hold the university responsible for what happened.
“In general, [the university does] a good job, but I think one area that could be improved is offering these skills for people,” Diana said.
Parr said the university is taking the incident as a learning opportunity.
“We have a very safe campus, we have a lot of programs in place, but our main takeaway from incidents like this is what can we learn and how can we do better,” he said.
‘There wasn’t a choice’
As she struggles to heal both physically and mentally from the experience, Diana is hopeful her story will give people pause before portraying people in her situation as “victims” who shouldn’t have gotten involved in other people’s business.
“Some of the comments [on initial media reports of the assault] have been hurtful, and some of them pretty outrageous, like [I] should have been hurt,'” she said.
She hopes her story shows that it’s never the right decision to turn away from someone else who’s in danger, no matter what the circumstances are.
“You have the opportunity to help and potentially save someone else, and I feel like it’s your responsibility to do so,” she said.
“In my case … there wasn’t a choice,” she added. “I don’t know what would have happened, but there’s a high probability she would have been hurt or worse if I hadn’t come around that corner.”
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