BRADENTON (FOX 13) - A 16-year-old girl's routine walk to the bus stop took a dangerous turn Tuesday morning. She says a man tried to sexually assault her, but only managed to steal her cell phone.
"I was really scared. I thought I was going to die," the victim said.
The girl and her mother do not want their identities revealed, but they agreed to tell FOX 13 News what happened.
The teen was on her way to a school bus stop around 6 a.m. when a man - possibly Hispanic and in his 20s, about 5'7" tall and skinny - came up to her at the intersection of 50th Avenue Drive East and 20th Street East in Manatee County.
"The guy approached me and he told me to turn around and face him, and I wouldn't," she recalled.
She said the suspect grabbed her backpack and tackled her into a wooded area. Then he told her to take off her pants.
"I tried to scream for help, but he covered my mouth and he said if I didn't shut up that he'd choke me," she said.
She said she was able to run away when a car came around a corner. She said the suspect took her cell phone and ran away. The teen then ran to a nearby home. Bill Tungate's answered the door.
"She was beating on the door. It woke them up in the back room, too. She was scared," Tungate told FOX 13.
Deputies were called and they searched the area for the girl's attacker.
"We don't have any reason to not believe her. We are treating this very seriously. We saturated the area with deputies this morning, trying to locate the suspect. We were unable to. We will be back out there as school lets out this afternoon and we will be back out there for the remainder of the week," said Manatee County Sheriff's Office Spokesman Dave Bristow.
The girl's mother believes this could have ended badly.
"I am very thankful that God was watching over her," she said.
The girl and her mother are both hopeful the man will be caught. Until then, the victim's mother will be keeping close watch over her daughter.
"I will be walking her to the bus stop. She doesn't really want to walk anywhere on her own anymore. I'll walk with her. Friends will walk with her so she will never be on her own," she said.
Deputies said the suspect is described as a male, possibly Hispanic, around 25-years-old, 5'7" and skinny. He was wearing blue jeans and a dark t-shirt. Anyone with information should call the MCSO at 941-747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.