Man gropes woman walking on river trail; police urging caution



■ Be aware of your surroundings when you’re out on local trails.

■ Carry a charged cellphone.

■ Go in pairs or groups when possible. If you go alone, make sure someone knows where you plan to go and when to expect you back. Several phone apps and fitness trackers will tell a friend your exact location.

■ Take a water bottle or walking stick. They can be used as a weapon against an attacker or wild animal.

■ Music lovers should consider keeping one earbud out so they can hear what’s happening around them.

Authorities are advising Colorado Riverfront Trail walkers and runners to use extra caution after a woman was grabbed on a section of the trail on Tuesday.

A woman told Mesa County sheriff’s deputies she was walking on the Audubon section of the Riverfront Trail between 3:30 and 4 p.m. Tuesday when she saw a man standing on the trail. She passed by him and he began following her very closely, sheriff’s spokeswoman Megan Terlecky said.

When the woman confronted the man, he made a sexual gesture and grabbed her chest. The woman struck him on the left side of his head with her water bottle and he ran off toward the parking lot of the Redlands Marketplace shopping center. The woman, who wasn’t hurt, waited until another person came along to escort her back to her car in the parking lot, Terlecky said.

The woman, who Terlecky said is a Grand Junction resident in her late 20s, reported the incident to deputies Tuesday evening.

The man was described as African-American, 5-foot-6 or 5-foot-7, 150 pounds, with short hair. He was last seen wearing a blue and white striped polo shirt with blue jeans. He was described as well-groomed and didn’t appear to be a transient. He may also have an injury to the left side of his face.

Terlecky said she didn’t know why the woman waited for a while to report the incident.

“My guess is this probably was a little unexpected,” she said. “It probably took a while to process. It’s not uncommon for people to be in some state of shock when an incident like this happens.”

Terlecky credited the woman for her response to the man grabbing her.

“She was very quick-thinking and very smart and was able to give us a very good description,” she said.

The Audubon trail is a popular walking and hiking path for people who often park in the shopping center parking lot and use the trail to access Connected Lakes State Park.

Deputies are increasing patrols in the area as call volumes in other parts of the county allow.

Anyone with information about this incident should call the sheriff’s office at 242-6707 or Crime Stoppers at 241-7867.


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