69-year-old woman who fought off alleged carjacker: ‘I nailed his head about 3 or 4 times’

Posted at 11:40 AM, May 31, 2015

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah -- A man was flown to the hospital with burn injuries after locking himself in a Saratoga Springs apartment and starting a fire Saturday night, and the man had attempted to hijack a car but was fought off by the 69-year-old woman driving it.

A booking photo of Christopher Bigler from an incident previous to the fire on May 31.

A booking photo of Christopher Bigler from an incident previous to the fire on May 31.

The man, later identified by police as 38-year-old Christopher Bigler of Provo, is a suspect in an assault that occurred just after 9 p.m. outside the apartment where the fire was started. Saratoga Springs police say Frances Mach, 69, went to the residence, which belonged to her daughter. While in the parking lot, police say, the suspect assaulted Mach and demanded she take him somewhere -- he didn't specify where.

Mach didn’t comply. Instead, she punched him back until he got out of her vehicle.

“I just balled up my fists and I nailed his head about three or four times and told him to get out of my car,” Mach said.

She added: "They said his face was already starting to swell, so I must have landed him pretty good."

At that point, the suspect ran into her daughter’s apartment and locked the door. Mach said she could hear the suspect breaking things inside.

Mach called 911. Police were on scene quickly but waited for someone to bring them a key to the residence because they didn’t want to kick the door in.

While they waited, the suspect reportedly started a fire in the upstairs master bedroom. At that point, police forcefully entered the residence in an attempt to pull the suspect out of the apartment. Officers were hit with intense smoke and heat, according to police. A video submitted by FOX 13 News viewer Ryan Clark shows armed officers at the door as firefighters spray water into the upstairs window.

Police say the suspect attempted to escape off the back deck.

Fire crews arrived on scene and put out the flames and got the suspect off the deck.

The suspect was air lifted to an area hospital to be treated for burns and smoke inhalation. Police said they believe he may have been under the influence of methamphetamine.

A few officers were also treated for smoke inhalation.

As for Mach, she said she wasn’t hurt, other than a minor headache and a shoulder ache from punching the suspect.