AUSTIN (KXAN) — A tourist visiting Austin with his family this weekend was attacked on the Congress Avenue Bridge, alongside his 6-year-old daughter.
Roger Buchanan, of Spearman, Texas, traveled to Austin last week for a crop insurance conference. In order to be with his daughter on her sixth birthday, he says he doubled the work trip as a family getaway. Being attacked, Buchanan says, was the last thing he’d expect to experience on his trip.
“There was this lady, who you could tell, she just didn’t look like she was quite right,” said Buchanan. “She was talking a bunch of gibberish. You couldn’t understand her.”
Buchanan and his six-year-old daughter went for a morning walk before 9 a.m. Sunday on the bridge. He said they walked around the woman, and even crossed Congress to the other side of the bridge, in an effort to avoid her. His efforts were unsuccessful.
“My daughter is saying, ‘Daddy, she’s trying to talk to us,’ and I’m like, ‘No, let’s just keep going,'” said Buchanan.
The father and daughter were approached by the woman as they went down the stairs by the bridge. Buchanan says he didn’t engage in any contact with the woman until he says he was forced to do so.
“As we started down the steps, she runs across, grabs the metal rail, swings underneath the metal railing and gets right in my face, and I said, ‘Lady, I’m not talking to you.’” That’s when Buchanan says the woman, identified as Taylor Marie Cartwright, physically attacked him.
He reached for his cell phone, but Cartwright grabbed for it, scratching his hand with her nails. Cartwright then jumped on Buchanan’s back and started strangling him for at least 20 seconds.
“I’m thinking we gotta get out of here, we gotta call 911 because someone needs to come take care of this lady before she hurts someone,” Buchanan said.
The affidavit states as Buchanan was losing consciousness, witnesses were able to pull the woman off him. Cartwright, 23, was arrested that day on multiple charges, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second degree felony, as well as interference with an emergency phone call, a class A misdemeanor. Her bail has been set at $40,000.
Cartwright reportedly told an officer on the scene that she thought Buchanan “was trafficking the little girl and/or was possibly going to throw the little girl over the bridge.” According to the arrest affidavit, Cartwright said she was trying to kill Buchanan.
“I never thought I would be so defenseless,” said Buchanan. “You always think you can defend yourself. But, when you’ve got your 6-year-old daughter by her hand, you know you can’t let go.”
Buchanan said he will return to Austin, but he’ll think twice about his surroundings while he is in the city. The experience, he said, makes him more uneasy. He said he isn’t sure what else he could have done to prevent the attack.
“It’s not any good when visitors come to spend money in your community and they get attacked,” said Buchanan. “I felt like I did everything I was supposed to do. I did not make eye contact with her and I did not speak to her until she got right in my face and stopped me.”
His daughter is likely the most traumatized after the ordeal, Buchanan thinks, but says she is doing much better after-the-fact.
Cartwright’s criminal history includes three arrests by the Austin Police Department. She was arrested once in 2012 for assault, causing bodily injury to a family member, and was sentenced to 18 months of probation. Cartwright was arrested twice in 2015 on misdemeanor charges, and sentenced that year to a total of 40 days confinement.
KXAN spoke with a representative of Cartwright’s family who told us that in the past, she has struggled with some mental health issues.