Survivor: Fiji contestant Michelle Yi was stabbed and beaten with a metal baton by a homeless woman while attempting to teach her pilates class.
Just before 6 a.m. on Thursday, Yi arrived at the pilates studio where she taught classes. And as her students began to arrive, Yi noticed a disheveled and agitated woman approaching the open front door.
“She was yelling all sorts of things like, ‘You stole my identity’ and, ‘You’re a prostitute,'” Yi, 37, shared. “Santa Monica has a homeless problem, and I’ve dealt with this type of thing before. So I told her, ‘Ma’am, you can’t be here. You need to leave.'”
But the woman did not leave and instead lunged at her with a knife in one hand and a metal baton in the other. “She stabbed me in the left bicep,” says Yi. “And then she hit me on the right hand with the baton. My Apple Watch shattered.”
Yi recalls how the woman then hit her on the head with the baton. “My face split open,” says Yi. “Blood was everywhere.” Yi and one of her students tried to call 911 after the woman ran off but operators were “currently busy,” and instead flagged down a police car.
“When we arrived, the suspect was still on the scene,” revealed Lieutenant Rudy Flores, a spokesman for the Santa Monica Police Department. “The officers took her into custody and interviewed the victims and the witnesses.”
Yi was taken to the hospital and received an X-ray on her hand.
“Fortunately, nothing was fractured,” she says. However, she did receive several stitches on her face.
“I can’t say why she attacked me, of all people,” says Yi. “But she was a white lady who attacked three people that morning. Another victim was an elderly Asian man who was walking his dog, and the third was also a person of color. I can’t prove whether it was racially motivated or not, but she was screaming all sorts of awful things at me. The facts are what they are.”
Police revealed that the woman allegedly attacked two other people before Yi. “It appeared that she was mentally unstable and maybe off her medication,” says Flores. “That probably caused her to do what she did.”
The woman (who has yet to be identified) has been charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon. She remains in police custody.
“My parents are in Taiwan,” she says. “My siblings live up in the Bay Area. So it was a really lonely place to be.”
“It was really awful,” she continued. “It was dark when this happened. I hope that police will have more protections during the hours that we need them most.”
Yi, who competed on Survivor in 2006 states her injuries should heal quickly. “Physically, I’m on the mend,” she says. “Emotionally, it’s harder, but I should be ok.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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