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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Jogger attacked on MCT Nature Trail

If you live in the St. Louis area, you pretty much had to be hiding under a rock Monday to have not heard about the attack on a female jogger that took place Sunday on the Madison County Transit Nature Trail in Edwardsville.

The good news is that Edwardsville Police have a suspect, although he was not in custody as of this morning. Also, the woman escaped his attacker and suffered only minor injuries.

The crime got big play in St. Louis-area media outlets, including the one I work for, the Belleville News-Democrat. My hope is that the extensive coverage prompts people to be more careful while using the trails, but that it doesn't create paranoia that prompt people to stop using the St. Louis region's trails.

The attack in Edwardsville also brought back reminders of an August 2006 attack that took place on the MetroLink Trail in Belleville. No suspect has been arrested in that particular attack. That attack prompted the organizers of the Tour de Belleville bicycle ride, which will take place July 13, to use proceeds from this year's ride to purchase emergency telephones that will be installed along the trail.

Police and MCT believe trails are generally safe places to be. Edwardsville Police Lt. Scott Evers said there have not been any other attacks on the miles of MCT Trails that go through his city, and MCT released this statement on the trails:
"Thanks to existing security measures and a solid working relationship with law enforcement agencies in the communities served by the MCT bikeway system, tens of thousands of individuals safely enjoy the trails every year. MCT continues to believe that the trails are safe and that this was an isolated, unfortunate incident."
Nevertheless, Edwardsville Police offered several tips to stay safe on the trails, including cycling, running or walking with a friend or in groups and exercising only during daylight hours.

Here are some links to coverage on the attack:

Belleville News-Democrat
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The (Alton) Telegraph
Edwardsville Intelligencer

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