Woman fights off attacker near Buckingham Fountain

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CHICAGO — A woman was nearly sexually assaulted just steps from Buckingham Fountain Friday night, police say, but was able to escape by putting up a fight until a passing cyclist appeared to scare the attacker away.

Around 11 p.m. Friday, the 27-year-old woman was walking south along the lakefront bike path near Balbo Drive when a man dressed in all black came up to her from behind.

The woman struggled to get away, using pepper spray on her attacker. As the struggle ensued, a cyclist approached and apparently scared the man, who ran away into the trees nearby. The woman was eventually able to flag down police, but her attacker is still out there.

The man is described as between 28 and 30 years old, 5'10" to 6 feet tall and wearing all black.

“What’s so sad about this city is you aren’t free to walk anytime day or night by yourself as a woman," Claudia McLaughlin said. “I’m not surprised but I’m so terribly disappointed.”

Chicago resident and cyclist Chuck Judy says he's familiar with crime along the city’s bike path because he became a victim in 1989, when he was jumped while riding his bike. Since then, he’s changed how he moves up and down the lakefront.

“I’m just more aware of my surroundings. I like to travel with a friend,” Judy said.

Despite it being a high traffic and touristy area, Chicago police are still encouraging women not to travel through the areas around Buckingham Fountain at night, and to be aware of their surroundings.

Anyone with information is asked to call police.

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