forest green trail in Bellingham, Washington
Photo credit: Margaretha Maryk via Shutterstock

Hiker Stabs Mountain Biker in Right-of-Way Altercation

The incident took place on a mixed-use trail and resulted in one arrest.

Dake Traphagen, 69, is in custody, charged with first-degree assault and possession of a dangerous weapon, after turning himself in to authorities yesterday. Police say there was probable cause to arrest Traphagen after a stabbing incident on the mixed-use Stewart Mountain Trail near Bellingham, Wash., on March 6.

According to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Traphagen was part of a group hiking down the trail when they encountered a mountain biker, later identified as a 66-year-old male, traveling uphill. Witnesses told police that an argument ensued over “right of way.” Accounts diverge regarding what happened next.

Traphagen told authorities the biker attacked him with his bike, causing the two to fall to the ground. At that point, Traphagen said he pulled out a pocket knife and stabbed the biker in self-defense.

The men were separated and the group called 911, but the biker left before authorities arrived. Later that afternoon, however, authorities heard that an ambulance had responded to a call for a man who’d suffered multiple stab wounds. After emergency personnel airlifted the man to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for the severity of his injuries, deputies confirmed his identity as the biker involved in the Stewart Mountain Trail incident.

The biker, whose name has not been released, gave his version of events. According to police, he asked the hikers to move off the trail as he was “trying to negotiate an area that had exposed tree roots and was clipped into his bike.” He told police one of the hikers grabbed his handlebars, causing him to fall onto Traphagen while still clipped in.

Then, he told police, Traphagen began stabbing him in the arm and leg. Concerned for his safety, he fled to his home before authorities arrived. Upon reviewing the evidence, and after Traphagen turned himself in, the authorities booked Traphagen into Whatcom County Jail.

two-by-four board with nails sticking out
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