Sunday, September 6, 2009

S.I. baseball-bat wielding neighbor rescues girl from abductor in woods

From the Daily News by Henrick Karoliszyn, Alison Gendar and Joe Kemp:

A baseball bat-wielding Staten Island homeowner was hailed as a hero after he chased away a man who dragged a 15-year-old girl into the woods, police and witnesses said.

Patrick Klatt, 51, was inside his Great Kills home Thursday night when he heard the young girl's screams from a wooded area across the street.

"He kept telling her to be quiet," Klatt said about the sicko. "[But] she yelled just loud enough for me to hear."

Klatt grabbed a baseball bat and ran out his door.

As he crossed the street, the man saw Klatt approaching and fled.

"I ran in the woods as he was running out," Klatt told the Daily News yesterday.

Ready to pursue the attacker, Klatt saw the young girl instead.

He stopped to help.

"I saw her halfway in and grabbed her by the hand," he said. "She was shaking, crying."

The teen told Klatt her attacker had grabbed her by the throat. She was hurt and her voice was raspy.

Klatt grabbed her hand and helped her to her feet.

"As long as you're with me, nobody's going to hurt you," Klatt assured the distraught teen as he led her out of the woods.

Klatt brought the frightened girl back to his house and told his brother to call 911.

The horrifying moment began as an innocent afternoon stroll for the young girl, who is not being identified because she's the victim of an attempted sexual assault.

As she walked to a friend's house, she passed a man on the street. He turned and began following her.

Suddenly, he grabbed the teen and dragged her into the woods, police and witnesses said.

Klatt said saving the young girl was not an act of heroism.

"I didn't want to make a big thing out of it," Klatt said. "I'm not a hero."

"I did what anyone should have done."

The teenager's family believes different - that Klatt saved the young girl's life.

"We are forever indebted to him," said a woman who identified herself as the girl's aunt.

"We've never met him, but he's a hero," she said, on the verge of tears. "We're so blessed with him helping."

The girl was treated for minor injuries from the attack. Her family said the attack was severely traumatic for the teenager.

"He [the attacker] was choking her quite a bit," the aunt said.

"It could have been a terrible tragedy" if Klatt had not acted, the aunt said.

The attacker is described as a Hispanic male, about 5-foot-5 and about 200 pounds.

He was wearing a red shirt, police and witnesses said.

Klatt said he never thought twice about saving the young girl.

"I'd do it again in a heartbeat," he said.

With Wil Cruz

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