Two recent Lawrence High School graduates who came to the aid of a woman attacked on a Lawrence bike path in June have said they don’t consider themselves heroes.
But this week the city and Lawrence Police Department will present Nathaniel Mehl and Aidan Waugh with the department’s commendation awards for their actions that day.
“It recognizes their high commitment to the community by putting themselves in danger and coming to the aid of this young lady,” Capt. Tarik Khatib said.
They will receive the awards, including certificates, at the beginning of the city commission’s 6:35 p.m. meeting Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.
The two friends were running June 16 on the paved path between the Youth Sports Complex and Clinton Lake Dam in southwest Lawrence. They discovered a man brutally attacking and stabbing a 23-year-old woman.
Police say the suspect was 30-year-old William Nichols, who was armed with a knife and pulled the woman off her bike. He faces a September trial on charges of aggravated kidnapping, attempted rape and aggravated battery.
The woman testified in a June preliminary hearing in the case. She said she is originally from Hungary and was in Lawrence visiting her host family.
When they saw what was happening, Mehl and Waugh charged the suspect. Mehl chased after him, and Waugh tended to the victim. Eventually another bicyclist arrived and helped call authorities, who were able to eventually arrest Nichols as the suspect near the scene of the attack.
Police say Mehl and Waugh’s actions were key in both stopping the attack and providing information that led to an arrest.
“The community should really thank these individuals for intervening and really stopping something that could have happened that could have been much worse,” Khatib said.
He said the department last gave a commendation award in 2008. That recognition went to Andrew Wiebe, who came to the aid of two officers who were struggling with a person in the 1300 block of Ohio Street.
“(The award) helps the community recognize they are part of the police department,” Khatib said. “The police department recognizes we are part of the community, and we are really working together.”