A hiker who is facing a felony assault charge following an altercation with a mountain biker is likely to claim self-defense at his trial, the Bellingham Herald reports
69-year-old Dake Traphagen is accused of stabbing a 66-year-old mountain biker following a right of way dispute on a multi-use, bi-directional trail in Bellingham
. He is charged with first-degree assault and an additional gross misdemeanor charge of possession of a dangerous weapon for the use of a spring-blade knife.
A statement provided to The Bellingham Herald by his defense attorney Angela Anderson states, “Mr. Traphagen has a very strong self-defense claim which is supported by two independent witnesses who we expect to testify about the attack on my client. Unlike the alleged victim, he remained at the scene and cooperated with law enforcement... My client is a 69-year-old man who cares about his community, volunteers often, and has no history of violence or aggression. We ask that people refrain from judgment and let the truth come out through the court process.” Traphagen was released on a $1,000 cash bail and will enter his plea at his arraignment on April 12.More details revealed about the incident
Records show that Traphagen was charged on March 23 in Whatcom County Superior Court, where further details emerged about the case. As we previously reported, the incident took place on the Stewart Mountain Trail on March 6 and it appears that neither party was willing to yield while passing each other so an argument broke out over who had right of way.
Traphagen claimed that the mountain biker attacked him with his bike after the disagreement and they fell to the ground. During the altercation, he had pulled out a pocket knife and stabbed the mountain biker in self-defense to get him off as he feared for his life. However, the mountain biker claims that his handlebars were grabbed, which caused him to lose balance, so he and the bike tumbled onto the hiker as he was still clipped in. It was at this point he claims he was stabbed multiple times.
Court filings now reveal that a bystander has filmed the incident. The video apparently shows that a woman hiking with Traphagen was grabbing the mountain biker's helmet during the incident and that the hikers were all shouting at the biker to get off Traphagen throughout. After the mountain biker had got up from the altercation, court records state that he was asked what was wrong with him, he said he had been stabbed multiple times and then Traphagen told him, "you are lucky".
The woman filming the incident apparently rang 911 after the mountain biker had asked for someone to do so three times as she was concerned he would pass out on his way down the trail. A witness from neither party who came across the incident apparently wanted to perform first aid on the mountain biker but didn't feel safe due to the aggressive behavior from the hikers, court records report.
The mountain biker received five stab wounds from the incident. He suffered excessive blood loss and a nerve in his arm was severed. He has apparently lost feeling in some of his fingers and has been told the damage could be permanent. We will update this story as more information becomes available.