For the third time since August, a female runner has been attacked near the trails of Lady Bird Lake in Austin. All three assaults have been extremely similar. Each time, a woman running was grabbed from behind.
The first attack happened late-August when a woman was jogging on the track of an Austin high school near the lake’s trail. A man came up from behind and grabbed her, attempting to cover her face with a cloth. The second sexual assault occurred Sept. 15. A woman was running along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake.
In the latest attack on Sept. 27, a woman was on the hike and bike trail of Lady Bird Lake. A man grabbed her from behind and attempted to drag her into the nearby bushes. However, the woman was able to fight off her attacker and escape to safety.
Police are still investigating as to whether or not any of these incidences are related.
Iram Leon, president of the Austin Runners Club, fears for the safety of runners.
“Any of those would have been too much,” Leon said. “But, there’s been three in a little over a month. It’s frustrating to the community.”
In response to these attacks, the Austin Police Department will be patrolling by foot, bike and on mounted patrols along Lady Bird Lake and Zilker trails to clear the areas of any suspicious activity. This safety precaution will begin at 4 a.m. each morning.
As for the local trails in San Marcos, the University Police Department said there have been no attacks of this nature on the trails that have come to their attention. The trails are patrolled by the UPD and the San Marcos Police Department.
Jose Bañales, chief of police for the University Police Department, encourages students to stay away from isolated, dark or overgrown grassy areas that are hard to see from the trails.
“Before you go out on the trails, let somebody know where you’re going and carry your phone with you,” Bañales said.
Bañales recommends taking the following precautions in order to stay safe.
1. When you go out to the trails to go running or out at night, use the buddy system in order to have a safety contact and don’t use headphones that prevent you from hearing your surroundings.
2. Download the Bobcat Guardian (Rave Guardian on the app store) application onto your phone and register. You can use this on and off campus to track your location and alert your most important contacts, if you wish to.
3. Always keep your phone on you in case of an emergency and be aware of your surroundings.
In case a student finds themselves in this situation, encouraged to do whatever to get away, such as yelling, kicking or hurting the attacker in self-defense. If a student does not feel safe, they can call UPD or Bobcat Bobbies (non-emergency) for assistance. The Bobcat Bobbies line is 512-245-7233 and operates seven days a week.