Victim in random assault near Crystal Cove now recuperating at CdM home

Todd Miller, a retired periodontist from Corona del Mar.
Todd Miller, a retired periodontist from Corona del Mar, said he doesn’t recall anything about the incident when he was beaten up by a stranger on Monday. Miller, pictured here immediately after his injuries, returned home Wednesday.
(Courtesy of Todd Miller)

Todd Miller doesn’t really know how it happened.

Miller, a 69-year-old retired periodontist from Corona del Mar, was on a training hike Monday morning when he was assaulted by a stranger, according to Newport Beach police.

An avid hiker, Miller said he typically prefers to hike in the hills up and around Crystal Cove State Park, but had opted for a different path that morning because of the rains expected to sweep through Orange County later in the day.

“So, I decided to walk from my home to San Joaquin Road, up to the upper part of Crystal Cove State Park near Newport Coast,” he said in an interview with the Daily Pilot on Thursday. “Then, I hopped on a trail that took me all the way down to [Pacific Coast Highway]. There’s another trail that goes along the bluffs of Crystal Cove and I was taking that home. I was maybe 10 or 11 miles into my walk, but I can’t remember if I got back onto PCH or if I fell right on the very end of the trail before it.”


What he does remember clearly is waking up in Hoag Hospital, where he remained for about two days. Miller was released on Wednesday afternoon.

Miller said he had several scrapes and bruises from the incident as well as one serious laceration that extends from over his left eye to about the mid-line above his nose.

He said doctors identified some minor brain bleeding and fractures. As of Thursday afternoon, neither seemed to present a major cause for concern, though he noted he’d been told to keep a look out to make sure no clear fluid ran from his nose or ears, which he was told could be a sign of a cerebrospinal fluid leak.

Miller’s been piecing together what happened through posts on Nextdoor, the hiking app that he uses to track his progress, as well as what he’s heard from police.

His tracking app said he appeared to have reached Pacific Coast Highway, where he was found by Newport Beach police at 12:09 p.m., near Camino Shores Road. Authorities said the assailant appeared to have struck Miller from behind, though Miller thinks he may have gotten struck in his face at least once after he fell.

Video evidence of the incident was collected, but the Newport Beach Police Department said it will not release it.

It was not immediately clear what provoked the incident, according to Newport Beach Police Sgt. Steve Oberon.

The suspect arrested in the incident has been identified as Steven Soliz, 31. Court records indicate he has pleaded not guilty to all charges, which include resisting police officers, battery against an unspecified person, assault on a custodial officer, assault on a peace officer, resisting an executive officer, resisting a peace office and battery. He remains in custody and is next expected to appear in court on Feb. 29.

The Newport Beach Police Department declined to publicly name Miller as the victim in the case.

Miller said that he’s seen Soliz’s picture, but does not recognize him and believes this to be a truly random incident. He said he’s since reached out to some of the people who have commented on the Nextdoor app, as they were the first to come and help him.

“I’m going to hopefully meet with them in a week or two after I’ve recovered a bit to thank them personally and to find out exactly what they saw,” he said. “It doesn’t sound like they witnessed the assault directly, but I think they were there about a minute or so after it happened because they saw the guy running.

“I just feel like I was in a fight and like I’ve been beat up.”