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Bellingham man pleads guilty to stabbing cyclist during trail right of way argument

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — Dake Traphagen, age 70 and of Bellingham, recently pled guilty in Whatcom County Superior Court to a reduced felony charge of 3rd-degree assault stemming from an incident in March of 2021 where he was accused of stabbing a bicyclist on a trail after preventing the bicyclist from riding past a group of hikers.

The court accepted the plea on April 26th and Traphagen was sentenced to a month in custody with the option for electronic home detention. He is also required to pay court costs, pay about $3,700 to the Crime Victims Compensation Program and surrender the knife used in the crime. A gross misdemeanor charge of possession of a dangerous weapon was dismissed.

The victim has since filed a civil suit against Traphagen and 1 of the other hikers that seeks financial compensation for medical expenses and other losses reportedly incurred.

According to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, on March 6th, 2021, deputies were dispatched to the scene of a reported altercation between a hiker and a mountain biker on a trail in the 3500 block of Y Road. Initial reports were that a man had been stabbed during the altercation and several parties were involved.

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Approximate location where the stabbing occurred.

Deputies contacted a group of hikers at the trailhead parking area who said they had been hiking down the trail when they encountered a cyclist on a mountain bike going up the trail. An argument had ensued over right of way on the trail. One of the hikers, identified as Traphagen, age 69 at the time, said the cyclist had attacked him with his bike, they fell to the ground and during the altercation he had pulled out a pocketknife and stabbed the cyclist in self-defense. The 2 were eventually separated and 911 called. The cyclist had left the area prior to deputies’ arrival.

Later the same day, deputies responded to a Bellingham residence after aid was dispatched to a report of man with multiple stab wounds. They contacted the man and determined he was the cyclist from the reported trail assault. The victim, age 66 at the time, had suffered multiple stab wounds and loss of blood. The man was transported to PeaceHealth St Joseph Medical Center by ambulance and later airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle due to the severity of his injuries.

Detectives interviewed the cyclist several days later. He said he had been riding uphill at a slow speed when he encountered the group of hikers and requested that they move aside. He said this occurred in an area with exposed tree roots and he was using pedal clips that made it difficult to quickly dismount. He said a man in the group grabbed the bike’s handlebars, causing the cyclist to lose balance and he tumbled onto the hiker. They became entangled with the victim was still clipped onto the bike’s pedals.

The cyclist told detectives the hiker began hitting him and other hikers were yelling for him to get off of the man. He soon realized he was not being hit. Instead, the hiker had a knife and was stabbing him in the arm and the leg. After getting up, he was concerned for his safety and although bleeding heavily, left the area and returned to his residence.

In the complaint filed in the civil suit, the victim said 1 of the other hikers, also named in the civil suit, was pulling on his helmet, making it more difficult for him to extricate himself from his bike and get up. It also noted he was stabbed a total of 5 times.

Traphagen was arrested after turning himself in on March 23, 2021. He was charged with suspicion of 1st-degree assault and possession of a dangerous weapon (spring blade knives cannot be legally possessed in Washington state). He was released from custody after posting $1,000 cash bail after a preliminary hearing that same day where prosecutors requested a $100,000 bond. The court set bail at $10,000 bond with a $1,000 cash alternative.

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