Two years ago on a sunny Tuesday afternoon, a Portland couple decided to use their day off to visit the city’s newest public beach.
It was a big attraction at the time.
The Human Access Project had lobbied for it. The Mayor had endorsed it. Newspapers and TV stations, including this one, covered its highly anticipated opening.
Andrew and Kelly Corrado were excited to explore the sandy stretch along the Willamette’s western bank under the Marquam Bridge, dubbed Poet’s Beach, for themselves.
Given the crowds, they set up chairs along the shore, just south of the beach.
By that evening, they were in the hospital.
“It could have been anybody,” said Andrew Corrado last week. “We weren’t targeted.”
Police said a man and woman camping near where the Corrados had placed their chairs had become angry the couple’s dog wasn’t on a leash.
The man, later identified as Jonathan Rance, attacked them with a baton, striking Andrew in the shoulder and Kelly in the head.
Recounting the ordeal earlier this month, Andrew Corrado remembered watching Rance pick Kelly up by the shoulders and throw her “about ten feet onto the rocks” before beating her with the baton.
Kelly Corrado said she felt "like I was the only person in the world. There was nobody there. And that he was going to kill me. That I was going to die."
Two years later, the Corrados sat down with KGW 24 hours after filing a federal lawsuit against the city of Portland for $500,000 each.
In it they allege that, in the days leading up to the attack, the Portland Police Bureau had been contacted between three and five times about Rance, with reports of assaults, threats and disruptive behavior but that they had failed to arrest him or remove him from the beach.
Corrado even remembered a police officer approaching them earlier that day, advising them they’d be “safer” if they sat on Poet’s Beach, further away from Rance’s tent.
“I kind of thought that was an odd comment… We’re just sitting on the rocks by the river,” he recalled. “But after the fact, here now at 5:30 where I’m following the ambulance going to Emanuel Hospital with her in the ambulance, I’m sitting there going ‘Well, that was a really bizarre comment. If you felt there was danger at that moment, and you’re advising us to go to a different part of the beach… Why has this family been camping there this long?’”
In light of pending litigation, the Portland Police Bureau declined to comment on the attack or what led up to it.
Portland Parks and Recreation, who maintains Poet’s Beach, also declined to comment on the lawsuit.