COLUMBIA, Mo. -

A woman was nearly sexually assaulted at knifepoint in Columbia, until a driver passing by stopped and interrupted the alleged suspect.

It happened early Sunday morning in the 4100 block of Lenoir Street, which is right along Highway 63.

"It wouldn't be somewhere where I would think a person would be hiding and waiting for someone to walk by," said Sgt. Joe Bernhard with the Columbia Police Department.

Columbia police said a 23-year-old woman was walking alone around 7 a.m. when a man reportedly came up behind her and held a knife to her throat.

"I don't think it was a habit for her to walk by there. I don't think it was a normal occurrence I think she was walking somewhere because she didn't have a ride," said Bernhard.

The man allegedly tried to sexually assault the woman but she was able to fight back.

Police said a passing car also stopped and interrupted the suspect, causing him to flee on foot.

Police told ABC 17 News he ran across Highway 63 into the woods.

"it wouldn't be somewhere where i would think a person would be hiding and waiting for someone to walk by no."

He is described as a white male,about six feet tall with a slim athletic build, wearing a ski mask, glasses, black sweater vest , grey t-shirt, and khakis cargo pants.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 573-875-TIPS.