Michelle Yi, known for her stint as a contestant in the CBS reality drama Survivor: Fiji in 2006, was hospitalized after she told reporters she was “stabbed” and “beaten” by a homeless woman in Santa Monica, California last week.
“She was yelling all sorts of things like, ‘you stole my identity’ and, ‘you’re a prostitute,'” Yi, 37, told the outlet. “Santa Monica has a homeless problem, and I’ve dealt with this type of thing before. So I told her, ‘Ma’am, you can’t be here. You need to leave.'”
That’s when the woman lunged at her, wielding a knife and a metal pipe, Yi said.
Police later characterized the “knife” as a rusty blade from a reciprocating saw.
“She stabbed me in the left bicep, and then she hit me on the right hand with the baton. My Apple Watch shattered,” she told reporters.
A Santa Monica police spokesman later said Yi’s description of the “stabbing” was “erroneous,” telling Us Weekly: “The suspect ‘poked’ Yi with a rusted reciprocated saw blade, but the actual injury to her eyebrow was caused by the pipe. When [the assailant] poked Yi with the blade, it only caused a scratch, according to the police report.”
Then, Yi said, the woman struck her over the head with the metal pipe. “My face split open, blood was everywhere,” she recounted.
Michelle Yi said she and her Pilates students tried to call 911, but received a message that operators were “currently busy,” so they got the attention of a nearby police officer sitting in his squad car.
Authorities would later say that they were responding to a nearby call about “who was hitting cars with metal pipes and acting erratic” when Yi attempted to reach emergency services.
Santa Monica police told People that Yi’s alleged attacker was still “on the scene” by the time they had arrived. Authorities believe the woman had just attacked two others nearby when she encountered Yi outside the Pilates studio.
“It appeared that she was mentally unstable and maybe off her medication,” said police Lieutenant Rudy Flores, a department spokesman. “That probably caused her to do what she did.”
The accused attacker, who police later identified to Us Weekly as Alexandria Diaz, was taken into custody. She was reportedly charged with three felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Flores told Us that Diaz “nonsensical comments” as she was taken into custody, and said that she was previously reported as a missing person.
Michelle Yi Rushed to Hospital
Yi was escorted to a nearby hospital following the attack, where she received stitches for a cut above her eye, and underwent an X-ray on her hand.
“Fortunately, nothing was fractured,” she told People.
Murtz Jaffer, a celebrity news reporter who calls himself “the world’s foremost reality TV expert” and who identified himself as a friend of Michelle Yi, posted pictures of her recovery on Twitter Saturday.
“My parents are in Taiwan, my siblings live up in the Bay Area,” she told reporters. “So [the hospital] was a really lonely place to be.”
Michelle Yi Thinks it was a Hate Crime
“I can’t say why she attacked me, of all people. But she was a white lady who attacked three people that morning. Another victim was an elderly Asian man who was walking his dog, and the third was also a person of color. I can’t prove whether it was racially motivated or not, but she was screaming all sorts of awful things at me. The facts are what they are,” she said.
Police have not charged Diaz with a hate crime, and police spokesman Flores told Us on Tuesday that investigators do not believe the attack was motivated by racial hatred.