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Are We Safe in Breakheart?

After the brutal attack Tuesday, nothing but questions remain.

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Maura Racamato August 22, 2011 at 04:42 PM
Yes, the silence is deafening on this tragedy. Where is the local reporting
Sara Jacobi August 22, 2011 at 09:11 PM
I can at least speak up for Wakefield Patch - Breakheart Reservation is technically in Saugus, so I did mention what happened in a "5 Things to Know" column, as I do with other similar news in nearby communities (did the same thing with the murder that occurred in Reading last week) just so people are aware of it. Is a follow-up on the assault warranted? Definitely. Is my news outlet the one to do it? Maybe... I'll give the state police a call this week and see if there have been any updates past what the Globe or Daily Item have already published.
Tasha Schlake Festel August 24, 2011 at 04:14 PM
I'd love to hear more about this too. I run Breakheart fairly regularly, although never alone. I'd never worried about carrying pepper spray when I was with my running girls, but perhaps I should start to pack it.
lagx1 December 11, 2013 at 04:10 PM
FYI....there was no attack on this young girl. She fainted from a medical issue and could not remember what had happened to her. Sadly, after all was said and done, the State Police did not retract the story. I only found this as I was goggling Breakheart to see if there was a story about what happened to close it down today and found your post. I am up there all the time, different times of day. It is important to be observant and careful.

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