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Woman survives alleged attack by trio near river

By Richard Rourk

An officer with the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department says a woman is lucky to be alive following an alleged attack that occurred over the weekend.

According to investigator Harmon Duncan, a 32-year-old female from the Tri-Cities area was left fighting for her life after she was reportedly attacked by three individuals. The alleged attack occurred with a rock and in a remote area of Unaka Springs.

According to the victim’s statement, she went for a ride with a male she knew. The two of them went for a walk to the railroad tracks and on the way back, two other individuals that the victim knew showed up and a confrontation took place.

The victim was struck in the head with a rock and lost part of her clothing during the struggle and she fell into the river. The three individuals left her there helpless and the victim said she played dead until the attackers left the scene.

The attack happened late in the  afternoon on Sunday, Dec. 16. The victim was able to find an old blanket to wrap up in and she was able to walk roughly half a mile to the camping area.

“She’s lucky she went the direction she did,” Duncan told The Erwin Record. “If she would have gone the other way she would have wound up on the North Carolina side and she probably wouldn’t have survived that.”

The victim was found on the Unaka Springs side of the Nolichucky River wrapped in a white blanket. The victim was yelling for help and the sheriff’s department had to enlist the help of a local rafting company to assist in the rescue. The joint effort got the female victim across the river where she was transported to Unicoi County Hospital and treated for life-threatening hypothermia and head injuries from the assault. The victim was then transported to Johnson City Medical Center. She was released from the hospital after staying overnight.

“She’s doing better, she’s got head injuries and she is still suffering from hypothermia, but I think she will be alright,” Duncan said.

The three suspects – Austin Gill, Matthew Taylor and Kendra Adams – were arrested by the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department on Monday and charged with attempted first-degree murder. They are scheduled to be arraigned in a Unicoi County court on Wednesday, Dec. 19. They are each being held on $100,000 bond.