I must admit, I was stunned when I heard about the brutal attack on a young woman in Breakheart Reservation on Tuesday. I really hope she is doing all right. My heart hurts for her. I am wondering if the police are making progress tracking down the viscious perpetrator. I hope so.
Having spent many hours both alone jogging and hiking with my small child there, summer and winter, my feeling of security was just yanked out from under me. I guess it was the stepping out of a city atmosphere and into the woods - and the tranquility of nature itself - that made me believe there was little reason to worry.
Then again, there was always something in the back of my mind as I ran those hills alone, not seeing a single soul for up to mile, that made me (just a little) nervous. But I don't like to live my life looking over my shoulder.
I did see the state police parked at the Flume Road from time to time, and a couple times even did ask if they felt it was a safe place, and I was always assured I had nothing to worry about. But for as many hundred or more times I ran those hills and hiked with my child, it was only a few times that I saw police presence. Frequently, it was the sheriff's office with the work furloughed prisoners. Beyond that, it seems to me quite rare to have seen park personnel patrolling the outer roads where the foot traffic is lower. I've never seen park service personnel on the trails.
I am somewhat curious about the local media silence on the matter. Having searched for news online via our three local news outlets, I'm shocked that I can't find a single story online about it except for stories out of Boston and Lynn. I am wondering why. I feel this is a pretty serious occurrence, and the fact that Breakheart Reservation is used by so many Wakefield citizens leads me to believe that people should know about it.
I would like to know about it. What is the condition of the young woman? In which part of the park did the assault occur? Where are the police on the investigation? What procedures are the park service implementing to ensure our safety? I will be interested to keep up with the story, and, as a frequent user of the park, hope it does not just fade away into the woodwork, as some stories do.
So what are we to do? This is a gem of a natural resource set amid a busy area. I don't want to say I'm going to abandon it, but I do want to get my head out of the trees and think clearly about the location of this park. It's a city park. It's summertime. The beach at Pierce Lake is a nice destination for mothers with young children. The paved 3 mile road is just perfect for a challenging hill workout, either running, walking or biking. And, some of those trails go way, way off the paved road and bring you to a natural place of your own.
Phone? Buddy system? Whistle? Pepper spray? I have no answers, but those ideas weigh heavily upon me. Breakheart always meant freedom to me. And right now it feels just like everywhere else.