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The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

Staff, Wire Reports

Posted: Sunday, January 21, 2018 06:31 PM

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UT Student Attacked, Car Jacked Near University Commons WalMart Garage

UT - (SOURCE: WVLT) - University of Tennessee Student Hannah Nelson said she has always felt safe near campus, until a violent confrontation at the University Commons Walmart parking garage earlier this week.

"I got out of my car, started walking towards the door, and this guy, big guy, comes towards me, grabs my keys and starts yelling at me," Nelson recalled.

Not willing to just give up her keys, she decided to fight back—in broad daylight, with several other people around.

"He pushed me into the car next to me, and then I push off the car into him...and then he got into my car backing up, and I fell onto the floor, hit my head, and he stepped on my thigh. I have a giant bruise on my thigh," she said.

A witness told Local 8 News that at first, the scene looked like a couple fighting, but it was the look in Nelson's eyes that told him she was in trouble.

"She looked over at me like she needed help, so as I got out, he backed up, and the car door was still open, it hit her and he peeled off," said Andy Alpers, who witnessed the theft.

The attacker drove off with Nelson's 2014 black Honda Civic, while she lay helpless on the ground of the parking lot in need of an ambulance.

Nelson told local news agencies she had a warning to others: it doesn't matter the time or the place, anything can happen.

"Definitely when you get out of a car, check your surroundings," she said. "Yeah, it sucked that I lost my laptop and my books and all that, but that can be replaced. These people may do something worse."

Police said the attackers was wearing blue hospital scrubs. Nelson said investigators think a woman may have also been involved in the crime.