Mystery surrounds attack at popular walking trail that left new father on ventilator

ROSWELL, Ga. — Police say someone attacked a new father at a popular Roswell walking trail Tuesday night, leaving him with such bad injuries he’s currently on a ventilator.

Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach was at the Roswell Area Park off Woodstock Road, where 40-year-old Matt Donald was found lying in a pool of blood around 9 p.m. Tuesday night.

Gehlbach talked to Donald’s family about the bizarre details of the attack on Channel 2 Action News at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Police and Donald’s family said that by the severity of his injuries, they don’t think he just fell, but was jumped.

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“Looks like he was hit with rocks, and lots of rocks in this area,” Dean Donald said. “He got laceration here pretty deep that they sewed up yesterday.”

Dean Donald said his son responded to his text around 8:47 p.m. Tuesday night.

“I said, ‘I love you.’ And he said, ‘I love you too.’ And that was the last time I heard from him,” Dean Donald said.


Minutes later, another walker spotted Matt Donald on the ground right where the trail exits into a large parking area near the sports fields.

Dean Donald said whoever attacked his son didn’t try to steal anything, but there was one strange clue: where his distinctive red Nike running shoes were found.

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“We thought maybe it was the shoes he was being attacked about,” Dean Donald said. “When they found him, the shoes were off of him and placed neatly beside him.”

Dean Donald said the attackers didn’t take his son’s identification or cellphone.

Dean Donald said his son is an avid walker, a huge Braves fan and a new father to a 7-month-old son. He said his son was friendly and outgoing and has no enemies.

People who use the trails on a regular basis said the idea of a random attack in the area is shocking.

“I’ve definitely never heard about this before, and I’ve been here over a decade, in the neighborhood, walking every day pretty much,” one walker said. “Everyone thought this was a safe place.”

Police have not been able to interview Matt Donald yet because he remains on a ventilator and can’t speak. His family said that thankfully, he is expected to recover.

Police said they do have a witness who may have seen a few cars leaving the parking lot during that time. Anyone who was at the park around 8 or 9 p.m. Tuesday is asked to contact police.