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    Victim of assault along PCH in Newport Beach baffled by attack: ‘I feel like I’ve been in a fight’
    • February 22, 2024

    Todd Miller set out for a regular, rigorous hike on a cloudy Monday morning in Newport Beach, his sights set on working into shape to take on the grueling 800-mile Arizona Trail hike this spring.

    From his home on Poppy Avenue in Corona del Mar, the retired 69-year-old periodontist made his way up to the ridge of Newport Coast, then a few miles back down a muddy trail into Crystal Cove State Park. From there, he headed north through the mist along  Pacific Coast Highway, first along a trail and then a sidewalk.

    A few hundred yards from completing the miles-long circle back to Poppy Avenue, the unfathomable happened: Authorities say an attacker, for no discernable reason, slammed Miller to the ground, punching him and lacerating his face in the process. The surprise attacker fled; bystanders soon rushed to help, and police and paramedics arrived minutes later.

    An hour or so later, Miller said in an interview, he regained consciousness at the ER in at Hoag Hospital, with his wife nearby, uncertain of what had happened, or why.

    On Wednesday afternoon, he was back home in bed trying to retrace his steps, in part with the help of a hiking app he uses to track his outdoor workouts, to figure out what had happened. He wonders whether he may have passed the attacker during the walk, with the assailant then stalking and hitting him from from behind.

    “I feel like I’ve been in a fight,” he said by phone, his voice steady even as he recuperated from from injuries that include two black eyes and lacerations that needed surgery above an eyelid. “I think I got cold-cocked.”

    Shortly after the attack Monday around noon, police arrested a Santa Ana man. The suspect, Steven Soliz, who turns 31 on Thursday, was charged Wednesday with assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and inflicting injury on an elder adult, both felonies, as well as a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest, CIty News Service reported. He also faces sentencing enhancements for inflicting great bodily injury on the victim.

    Soliz also was charged Wednesday on suspicion of scuffling with Orange County sheriff’s deputies.

    Soliz has pleaded not guilty and is next due in court Feb. 29 for a pretrial hearing in the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

    Miller, who spend two nights at Hoag, was happy to be back at home with his wife, but realizes his goal of taking on the lengthy hike in Arizona may need to be postponed.

    For now, the Long Beach native, a graduate of UC Irvine and UCLA’s School of Dentistry, will try to figure out why he was targeted. He has seen a photo of the suspect, and doesn’t recognized him.

    “I was attacked,” he said, “and I don’t remember any of it.”

    City News Service contributed to this report


    ​ Orange County Register