(File photo)

An elderly Campbell River man has been arrested after he attacked his ex-wife with a hammer on Saturday afternoon.

The 86-year-old man allegedly went to his ex-wife’s residence following an argument from earlier that day and struck her several times with a hammer before she could escape.

The woman then fled outside her home and yelled for help, prompting nearby witnesses to come to her defense, performing first aid and keeping the attacker at bay.

“The couple had been recently separated but were in communication for medical reasons,” said Campbell River RCMP in a release.

“He entered the residence and struck her multiple times with a hammer. She managed to escape out of the house where she called out for help. Witnesses quickly came to her aid and stopped the assault.”

After the incident, the 64-year-old woman was rushed to hospital with “serious injuries” related to the attack.

Cpl. Ron Vlooswyk of the Campbell River RCMP told Victoria Buzz that the department is grateful for the help of nearby bystanders.

“We’re really thankful for the witnesses that were there and stepped up and took action,” he said.

“It sounds to us that the assault would have continued… If the witnesses had not intervened we would’ve been talking about a very different story here.”

William Cook was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.

The elderly man remains in police custody and is scheduled to undergo a court-ordered mental health assessment. His next court appearance will take place after the assessment is complete.

The investigation is ongoing.