AUSTIN, Texas - One year ago, Mark Dolan stopped to help four women who were attacked on the Congress Avenue bridge as they were in town visiting. Now, the unfortunate incident has led to a lasting friendship.
Dolan says a lot of things had to line up to get him to be where he was that day. For example, a week earlier he broke his thumb which meant he couldn’t do to his usual kickboxing class.
He would have typically ridden his bike, but his thumb was still sore, so he decided to run. “It was the first time I had come running down the path for this bridge," he said.
At the same time he chose to run, Ashley Goodrich and her friends visiting from out of state decided to walk the bridge as well on one of their final days in Austin.
However, what happened as the two groups crossed paths, neither was prepared for. “I heard one of the girls scream and I looked back and I could see him punching her,” Dolan said.
Dolan said he stepped in between Ashley and the attacker, who police later identified as Timothy Mitchell. Dolan told the women to run. The group went inside the Line Hotel. As they ran away, Dolan ran as well.
"He followed us,” Dolan said. “And right when I got to the door of the Line, he hit me in the back of the head… and he just started pounding me."
Luckily, Dolan suffered only minor injuries: a concussion, some stitches and some lingering issues with his neck. "I had physical therapy for about 6 to 7 months which allowed me to actually avoid surgery," he said.
But now, a year later, Dolan says he's conflicted with the attack. "I’ve never really thought much of the idea of closure, but it may be close to that experience for me," he said.
An experience he says comes after finally getting to meet Ashley. This week, Dolan got back from meeting her and her family. "It was, I would say, emotional," he said.
It was emotional because what could have happened always plays in the back of his mind. "It was just really rewarding to meet her and her family," he said.
Dolan said Ashley refers to him as her guardian angel, but he doesn't feel like that. "I'm just an average guy who was in the right place at the right time to help somebody and I hope that others would do the same," he said.
While Dolan is now back in Austin, he said his guard is always a little bit up. "My head is a bit on a swivel," Dolan said. "But I'm still a little anxious when I hear people yelling or when I run into the more aggressive vagrants."