A section of the Rotary Trail in Courtenay. Black Press file photo

A section of the Rotary Trail in Courtenay. Black Press file photo

Man attacked with hammer on popular Vancouver Island walking trail

“It’s disappointing, but it’s a nice place to walk - I see a lot of people (using the trail).”

A Courtenay man was smacked with a hammer Monday evening during a walk as part of a random attack on a popular city walking trail.

Arthur Riel (name changed to protect the victim) said he was taking an after-work walk through Millard Park and onto the Rotary Trail in Courtenay heading north, and passed a man walking in the opposite direction towards Walmart.

Riel continued his walk to Cumberland Road, close to the Courtenay Train Station. He turned around to walk back, listening to music and nodded at the man as he saw him again on the trail.

“That’s when he reached near the front of his pants and pulled out what looked like a roofing hammer. He took a swing and I blocked it with my forearm and I ran.”

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The 46-year-old victim said despite having bad knees, he took off in a sprint about 10m down the trail. He turned around to see the attacker swinging the hammer and swearing aloud and describes him as about six feet tall and between 20 to 25 years old.

Riel received a welt near his elbow from the attack and considers himself lucky.

“The hammer had a small hatchet on one end, but he used the hammer side on me. (My arm) bled a little bit and hurts if I put pressure on it, but it’s really not that bad,” he noted. “It was a random attack, but a lot of people walk on that trail. I almost had a feeling somehow it was directed at me, like (the attacker) felt challenged or something – I had looked him in the eye.”

Riel suspects drugs may have played a factor in the attack, and has filed a report with the Comox Valley RCMP.

Despite the attack, he said it won’t deter him from using the trail in the future.

“It’s disappointing, but it’s a nice place to walk – I see a lot of people (using the trail).”

Black Press Media has reached out to the Comox Valley RCMP for comment.

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