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Police: Woman attacked while jogging in Springettsbury Twp.
A young woman jogging at a park in Springettsbury Township Tuesday night escaped with minor injuries after being attacked on a trail.
It's not known what the man would have done to her had she not fought back and gotten away, Springettsbury Township Police Chief Dan Stump said.
What is clear is that the attacker had "sinister and evil" intentions, according to the chief.
"Whether that was to sexually assault her or to take her life, I don't know," Stump said. "I can only speculate, because thankfully it didn't get that far."
What happened: The 18-year-old was running in Rocky Ridge County Park about 8 p.m. when she was attacked, police said.
It happened near Trails 1 and 4, according to Stump.
She was able to fight off her attacker and run away, but she suffered minor injuries while defending herself, including scrapes, according to township police Sgt. Brian Wilbur.
Stump said she saw the man ahead of her on the trail and was jogging toward him.
"He stepped off the trail to let her go by, which is the (courteous) thing to do," the chief said. "Literally as she ran by him, he reached out and grabbed her by the back of her sweatshirt and pulled her to the ground."
He then threw her to the side of the trail, and she landed on some rocks, according to Stump.
"That's when she started fighting back," he said, kicking at and struggling with her attacker.
Pulled free: The woman nearly got away from him, but then he grabbed her by the leg or foot, Stump said.
"She pulled free and ran away from him," he said, but her shoe was pulled off as she broke free. It was later recovered by officers, he said.
"At one point while she was running, she looked back and he was running after her," Stump said. "She put it into another gear."
Wilbur said she ran off-trail and hid for a bit in the woods until she thought it was safe.
"Then she ran to a residence on Doersam Court and asked the resident to call 911," the sergeant said. Doersam Court is near the park entrance.
'Worst nightmare': There's no doubt the young woman did the right thing by fighting to defend herself, Stump said.
"If you find yourself in that situation, do what she did — fight back," he said. "It's a scary thing. ... If you're a parent, it's your worst nightmare."
Stump said his department is working hard to track down the attacker.
On Wednesday morning, officers canvassed the neighborhood adjacent to Rocky Ridge, asking residents if they'd seen anything unusual or if they saw a man fitting the attacker's description, according to Wilbur.
GoPro footage? Wilbur said police are hoping bicyclists or others using the trail Tuesday evening had GoPro cameras that might have recorded images of the attacker. If so, he asked people to review their footage and call police.
Although the attack in the park is alarming, it also is rare, and residents are safe, the sergeant said.
"I’ve been here 18 years and it’s the first report we’ve had of this nature (at Rocky Ridge) that I can recall," he said. "Right now we're encouraging everybody to be aware of their surroundings — be vigilant."
Wilbur urged people to walk, jog or bike park trails with a buddy, if possible.
Also, if using earbuds, make sure your music or podcast isn't so loud it hampers your ability to hear what's going on around you, he advised. Call police right away if you see anything suspicious, he said.
The lead detective in the case briefed York County park rangers about the incident Wednesday morning, Wilbur said.
"We patrol (the park roads) periodically, but we don't have the means to patrol the trails properly ... like the park rangers," he said.
Description: The attacker is described as a white man in his 40s with grayish-blond hair. He was wearing a green zip-up hooded sweatshirt over a gray T-shirt, cargo-style shorts and white and blue shoes, police said.
York County spokesman Carl Lindquist answered questions Wednesday on behalf of York County Chief Park Ranger Gerald Ford.
"Our park rangers ... regularly patrol our parks, both in uniform and in plain clothes," he said. "At Rocky Ridge, we plan to continue our regular patrols through the area ... both in plain clothes and in uniform."
York County has 11 parks totaling more than 4,300 aces, according to Lindquist, and there's something like a dozen miles of trails just at Rocky Ridge. There are about 200,000 visits to Rocky Ridge every year, he said.
Be cautious: "The most important thing people can do is take steps to protect themselves," Lindquist said, no matter where they are, including having a way to call for help and letting someone know where you will be.
"Our parks department and the county as a whole take the safety of our visitors extremely seriously, and we will do everything possible to facilitate the arrest of the individual involved," he said.
York County Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of the attacker. All calls to Crime Stoppers are confidential and callers don't have to give their names to collect cash rewards.
Anyone who was in the area of Rocky Ridge County Park on Tuesday evening and saw someone matching the attacker's description is asked to call township police at (717) 757-3525, or call Crime Stoppers at (717) 755-TIPS.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.