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'Survivor' Contestant Michelle Yi Describes Frightening Santa Monica Assault

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Former 'Survivor' contestant Michelle Yi, who goes by "Piper," spoke exclusively to KPIX 5's Betty Yu about a vicious attack that may have left her with a detached retina.

"I never thought I would be the victim of an attack like this," said Yi.

The Season 16 favorite in Fiji shared photos of her injuries from the October 14th assault. She was preparing to teach her first Pilates class of the day at a Santa Monica studio, when police said 25-year-old Alexandria Diaz assaulted her.

"She had a rusty metal saw in one hand and a metal pipe in the other," said Yi. "She starts shouting more nonsense and actually lunges into the studio and stabs me in my left bicep with the knife, and then strikes me twice with the pipe. First time, just striking my hand, shattering my watch, getting my fingers pretty good, and then the second time just straight over the head."

The attacker hit Yi so hard it split her eyebrow wide open, and she received stitches at the hospital.

Police said Diaz had been reported missing from Fresno. She had assaulted two other victims moments before she attacked Yi. One of the victims was an older Asian man. Police added that the suspect was not on her prescribed medications at the time of the assaults.

Yi could not be certain whether she was targeted because of her race, but said:

"I think that if I were a different person, I'm not so sure she would have attacked me. I think being an Asian woman and not very large in size, it makes for a much easier target, as well as the elderly Asian gentlemen. You know, there were other people around in Santa Monica."

Santa Monica Police are still investigating whether the attack was a hate crime. Diaz has been charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

Yi said while she is doing better physically, the emotional wounds will take longer to heal. She is planning to return to work this week.

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