Another Safety Reminder


Meg has written 31 posts on Salty Running.

I'm a married, step-mother, the 4th of 5 kids. I'm livin' the dream as a manager in retail, putting that English degree to great use. Oh, and I'm sarcastic.

Murder victim, Jessica Ridgeway, age 10.

On October 5th, 10 year old Jessica Ridgeway went missing in the Denver suburb where we live.  I’m not sure I will ever forget the picture to the left.  It was the image used on most of the “Missing” signs that were distributed all over the area.  Some were posters-sized. There was even a huge banner with this picture displayed at the camp set-up to organize search parties.  One day, when I was leaving work, I found a business card sized version on my windshield.  Unfortunately, that day was the day the police identified human remains they had found as Jessica’s. I was heartbroken.

iPhone 3G and iPod Classic 5G.

Swapping out the old iPod so that I’ll have a phone with me instead. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I learned details of her abduction and murder, it turned out that we live pretty much smack in between the place where she was taken and the place where her remains were found, just a couple miles or so from both.  Those spots are not far from the areas where I do most of my running.  Realizing this, I told me husband that it probably wasn’t smart to take my iPod, but not my phone with me when I run.  I said that I knew this was a case involving a little girl, but it still brought home the point that leaving my phone behind was not wise.  (You would think based on safety posts & after Salty’s scare with passing out, I would already have this ingrained in me.)

The investigation in the kidnapping & murder of Jessica continued to unfold.  Close to 20 days after Jessica went missing, the police made an arrest.  It was a 17 year old boy.  His mother called the police and the boy turned himself in.

So, with the arrest, I started to feel a sense of relief.  I think the whole community did.

Then, more information was revealed.  It brought things even closer to home, in a way.  Here I was preparing for the Gorilla Run and the fun nature of that event, while trying to process the horrific things going on in my own neighborhood.  It turns out, the boy arrested in the case of Jessica’s murder attempted to abduct a young woman jogging on the same paths I run on.  He came up behind the young woman and tried to grab her and attempted to cover her mouth with a rag.  She managed to get away and call the police.  When I heard this story on the news, I thought I was going to throw-up.

Swann Street Lights

Teaching my step-daughter to be safe by going to well lit areas. (Photo credit: Flicker Clicker)

A few days later, my mother-in-law was over and we got to talking about the case.  She said something about how we shouldn’t let my 17 year old step-daughter walk home from her friends’ house in the dark.  My husband told her that if my step-daughter is walking home, she has been told to take the main street that is well lit and has a lot of traffic.  She no longer is taking the short-cuts through parks and fields.

Then my mother-in-law turned to me and asked, “You’re not still running, are you?”  I said that I was.  My husband stepped-in and told her that we can’t let people like this boy keep us from living our lives.  He told her that we can’t let fear control us.  This is not to say that my husband isn’t concerned about my safety, or his teenage daughter’s.  I know that he wants us safe and sound.  But, he breathes easier knowing we are taking precautions and have our phones with us.  As Salty once wrote, “ I will run where I want to run, damn it.”


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4 Responses to “Another Safety Reminder”

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  1. tracie says:

    I was just writing a post on my own blog about this the other day and decided not post it. I certainly understand concern and playing things smart. I ran alone, in the dark (and rain) twice last week and my family was none to thrilled about it. I only had a weird/sketchy incident on Friday and just tried to remain aware of my surroundings and stick to the main drag instead of off the road and follow my instincts.

    While I know this isn’t the case with Jessica, it totally sucks that anyone should ever feel unsafe participating in something they love doing! But life does happen and I guess in my mind whatever happens happens. PLEASE NOTE: I’m not at all trying to be insensitive to the victims or their families. When things like this happen, I think how can I learn from this incident and do things to prevent that same thing happening to me. Many of the most recent tragedies didn’t happen in the dark. They happen when all of us feel “safe” being out and about. Maybe it is because our guard is down when the morning sun is shining on us. Maybe we pay less attention when we are in the groove and loving our usual run routes. Maybe it just happens. Maybe there isn’t anything we can do to prevent it, really, in the end. Every time my mother hears of a cyclist being killed in a bike/car accident she reminds me that I need to be extra cautious. I remind her that if that is ever my fate to know that at least I was doing something I truly loved. And for the families that experience this great loss, the what ifs can consume them forever.

    I guess what I’m getting at is that, we can’t live in fear. We can’t alter our lives because there might be a crazy person hiding in the bushes. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take precautions and be safe. But there has to be a balance.

    It was heartbreaking to hear that this little girl was missing and then to realize the outcome was even worse. I hope that her family and friends can find some sort of comfort and peace. <3

  2. KP says:

    I live around the area where Jessica was abducted as well ( a little more north), and I’m feeling wary of running after work because it is so dark. I always run with my husband, and we try and run in neighborhoods so there is some light, but I don’t like it at all. Between worrying about people and worrying about coyotes running around, I may stick with the treadmill…

  3. Brianne says:

    It’s so scary and terribly sad when this happens. My heart and thoughts go out to her family. I’m used to running on my own and always go when it’s light out through a park near my house in Queens. There’s usually quite a few people in there so I’ve always felt safe. One day during a long run I stopped for some water and stingers and happened to be right in front of a “wanted”-style poster with a police sketch of a man that attempted to rape a young girl in the same park I ran through everyday. It literally sent chills down my spine and I didn’t run there for about a week. But I agree with Nutmeg’s husband, we can’t let fear control us. We just need to be aware of our surroundings and take every precaution possible.

  4. I read this post a day or two ago and it stayed with me. I’ll offer not what I always do, but my best intention before going out the door running alone: 1) cellphone, 2) pepper spray (if for nothing else, dogs abound), 3) a tiny but loud safety whistle especially for trail running, and 4) the voice in my gut that says bad energy here – change your route. I’ll take precautions – but go I will.

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