84-year-old park attack victim speaks out

Scabs have formed around Jim Shea’s right eye. Eight stitches mend a laceration he suffered from an attack in Wissahickon Valley Park Monday afternoon.

The days have passed, but the memory is still fresh for the 84-year-old, retired Temple University journalism professor and former vice president of university relations, who frequents the park for exercise each week.

Shea was assaulted by four males at 6900 Forbidden Drive, just northwest of the Green Lane entrance to the path in Wissahickon Valley Park.

“It took me a moment to feel what happened. You feel completely helpless…absolutely at their mercy,” Shea said. “I suspect they had a rock, brass knuckles or some rings because they cut me in three or four different places with the first blow, and it was pretty hard.”

People on the Wissahickon greet each other as they pass along, he said. The attackers were 20-yards away when Shea waved to them, prompting one of the four to ask, “Do you know me?” Shea responded he did not.

Moments later, about a mile and a half from Valley Green Road heading east, the four assailants approached Shea from behind. They hit him, knocked him down, and Shea believes only two of the four acted physically.

“One in particular because when they were done, he came back to give me a goodbye kick, not kiss, kick,” Shea said.

Police say the four suspects were described as four black males, approximately 17 to 20 years old wearing La Salle University sweatshirts. They were last seen heading south on Forbidden Drive toward Lincoln Drive. One of the four was significantly larger than the rest, according to Shea.

He did not have a chance to see their faces since he was approached from behind.

On Wednesday, Shea contemplated braving the rain to search for his glasses at the scene of his assault. Though he had his wallet, keys and glasses with him during the attack, the assailants took nothing. They departed happily, Shea said, talking and laughing after beating him to the ground.

“I would not be truthful if I didn’t tell you that it gives me pause,” Shea said of returning to the park.  He added that two strong friends from his gym have offered to accompany him on his search for his glasses.

“It’s very important that people still use the park,” Shea said, his eye still inflamed. “These were just some rancid souls who had nothing better to do than go beat up a geezer.”

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