MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee man says he was trying to prevent three teenagers from damaging a county park, and in the process, he ended up in the hospital.
David Ciepluch is retired, and said twice a day he walks his two dogs through Holler Park, near General Mitchell International Airport. On Sunday, August 13th, he said three teenagers didn't respond nicely when he asked them to stop skateboarding on a wooden walkway.
"I was getting hammered with fist blows," Ciepluch said. "I can feel them now, a bunch of knots on my head."
Exhausted and in pain, Ciepluch on Monday was still processing what he says happened in the park that borders his backyard on Sunday.
"As part of the community, we have sort of adopted the park," Ciepluch said.
Ciepluch said he was walking his dogs around 6:00 p.m. and came across three teenage boys.
"They were skateboarding across that deck surface, which is not the best place. You're going to damage it," Ciepluch said.
The 67-year-old said he asked them to stop, but he was also going to take pictures of the encounter.
"I said 'I was going to take your photo, and if there is damage you're doing, I'm going to report it to police,'" Ciepluch said.
You could say Ciepluch is protective of the park. Over the years, he's worked to improve the property, even raising thousands of dollars to do so.
"And over the last seven years, about 20,000 native plantings I wrote grants for," Ciepluch said.
Ciepluch's wife Debra said there's even a plaque dedicated to her husband among the native grasses and flowers he helped plant, and it's his dedication to the park that led him to keep an eye on the teens.
"I didn't see anything come at me. It was just like 'whack,'" Ciepluch said.
That's when he says he was blindsided -- struck in the face with an object and pummeled. He said after the attack, the teens rode away on their bikes and his wife took him to the hospital.
"Concussion protocol, ice, Tylenol," Ciepluch said.
A sheriff's deputy met the couple at the hospital, and that's when Ciepluch said he showed the pictures he took of the teens.
"I felt it more than I saw anything," Ciepluch said.
Ciepluch said his friends, family and strangers have been showing support on social media, and he expects the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office to make contact with the teens he says were involved, believing they're from the neighborhood.