PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A father says he was enjoying a day with his daughter at Couch Park when a woman began running around in the playground area with just a T-shirt on.
Moments later, he jumped into action when he saw the woman allegedly grab his 7-year-old.
“It was very terrifying,” Scott Mares told KOIN 6 on Thursday. “I knew what I had to do. I knew I had to save my little girl.”
Mares said he had been sitting on the bench at 1961 NW Gilsan Street around 6:20 p.m. while his daughter played when it all began.
“The woman is wandering aimlessly around. Very disoriented. She goes and puts herself in the trash can,” he said. “The woman came over and climbed on the structure and that’s when I called 911. I was on the phone for several minutes.”
While he was on the phone, Mares said he saw the woman interact with his child.
“My daughter and her got up there on the slide and they slid down together,” he said. “That’s when I saw her just squat down and pick up my daughter.”
Mares told police the woman grabbed his daughter and made it five steps before Mares took his child back.
“It happened that quickly,” he said. “I grabbed her by her ponytail, put her on the ground, grabbed my daughter, and got out of there. And I was still on the phone with 911.”
Portland police confirmed to KOIN 6 that officers responded to the park two weeks ago, where they say it appeared the woman was in a mental health crisis that afternoon.
Authorities took the woman to the hospital, and Mares’ daughter was left unhurt. In fact, his daughter has returned to the park without an issue.
“Last week my daughter came back to the park with her friends and was just fine,” he said. “I was on high alert.”
Mares said that’s because he knows the incident could have ended much differently.
“It’s quite intense being over here. I’m having flashbacks of the whole thing,” he said. “We got really, really lucky this time.”