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Samaritan recalls surprise attack after stopping to help disabled motorist

Union Leader Correspondent

November 16. 2012 1:28PM
Bruised from her altercation with a man she tried to help, Mari Chapman won't be offering roadside assistance to strangers anymore. (Nancy Bean Foster/Union Leader Correspondent)

MILFORD - Mari Chapman spends a lot of her time on the road delivering newspapers, so she's used to stopping to help disabled motorists, but after she was attacked by a man she tried to help on Thursday, she won't be offering her assistance any more.

Chapman, 33, was heading to Hollis on Federal Hill Road in Milford around 10 am on Thursday morning when she came upon a man and a woman in a black Honda Civic pulled off the road with its hazard lights flashing.

'I pulled up alongside the car and asked them if they were ok,' said Chapman, 'and the man said, 'Yeah, but I need a jack for my car.'

Chapman pulled over in her Jeep SUV and chatted with the man, whom she described as 'the kind of man whose parents raised him to be polite.'

'I didn't get the feeling that maybe I should just move along,' said Chapman. 'They just seemed like nice, friendly people so I wanted to try and help them.'

But as Chapman was bending into her SUV to try and get the jack, all of the sudden the man snuck up behind her, grabbed the back of her hooded sweatshirt and threw her to the ground, telling her that he was taking her car. Chapman fought with the man, struggling to get back to her car as he continued to assault her.

'The whole time I was fighting with myself thinking, 'stop fighting and let him take the car,'' she said. 'But then I would think, 'hell no, he's not taking my car.''

When Chapman finally got on her feet, the man threw a punch that hit her squarely in the face and sent her sprawling backward.

'I have never been punched like that,' said Chapman, 'and at that moment I decided that he was not going to take my car, so I kept fighting.'

Eventually, Chapman said she was able to make it to her vehicle, get in the driver's side and lock the doors. She took off and immediately called the police, but the couple had fled by the time officers arrived. Police are actively searching for the suspect.

Chapman described the person who attacked her as a white male, 20-30 years old, approximately 5'-10' tall, with a medium build, black hair, black sweatshirt, blue jeans, a navy blue Red Sox ball cap with a red 'B.'

The female occupant is described as white, 20-30 years old, petite build, and long, blonde hair (possibly bleached) with a small braid on one side of her head.

Police said the vehicle the pair was driving was a newer model black Honda Civic with Massachusetts plates, possibly with the letters Y and G in the plate number.

Chapman said the woman got out of the car a couple of times during the altercation but didn't intervene.

'She definitely looked surprised, like she couldn't believe it was happening,' said Chapman. 'She tried to tell the man that they should go, but he just said, 'I got this.''

Chapman, who carries a tow rope with her because she's often helped motorist who get stuck in snow banks on winter mornings, said she won't be stopping to offer help again.

'I'll call the police and tell them there's a car on the side of the road, but I won't be pulling over,' she said.

The investigation is ongoing, anyone with information is asked to contact Milford Police at 603-249-0630.

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