Jogger fends off attacker |

Jogger fends off attacker

Tim Mutrie

A 22-year-old, part-time Aspen resident was allegedly attacked by a man yesterday morning while she was out running alone near the Rio Grande Trail, just downriver from the Aspen Art Museum.

The victim, a recent graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder who regularly spends time in Aspen visiting with her sister, was running downvalley on a dirt single-track path that parallels the Rio Grande Trail, less than a half-mile below the art museum.

“Out of the blue, I heard some footsteps behind me,” said the victim, who asked to remain anonymous. “I turned around to let him pass, and he basically just attacked me. He took me to the ground, but I was screaming loudly and clawing, and after a minute or so, he took off running.”

Authorities allege the man touched the victim beneath her clothing before she was able to fend him off.

The woman then continued running downriver, toward Stein Park and the Cemetery Lane bridge, while the attacker ran away upriver. The victim said she was very shaken up, but otherwise OK.

“You just don’t think that that’s going to happen to you on a sunny day on a popular trail,” said the woman, who said she runs regularly on several area trails. “I’m fine. It scared me, but I’m really just pissed off. I’m glad I reacted the way I did. Adrenaline just took over – I’m pretty small, but I fought off this 180-pound guy.”

For more than two hours after the attempted assault occurred, authorities with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and the Aspen Police Department searched the vicinity, though they did not locate the man.

The attacker, now the subject of a police sketch, is described as a Hispanic male, with brown hair, brown eyes and a thick brown mustache. Authorities estimate the man is between 25 and 30 years old, weighs between 180 and 200 pounds, and is between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 10 inches tall. When the attack occurred, he was wearing a gray T-Shirt and dark pants.

Director of Investigations Joe DiSalvo, with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, said authorities had not made any arrests as of 6 p.m. yesterday.

“This is scary for all of us,” DiSalvo said. “It’s pretty brave for someone to do something like this at 10:30 in the morning in such a highly visible area. I would suggest that people are more careful using the trail. If that means running or biking with somebody else, that might be a good idea.”

DiSalvo noted that a similar attempted assault occurred two years ago off Castle Creek Road. “I want to make sure people know that it happened so they can be aware,” the victim stressed in an interview Monday. “It was really scary, but more shocking than scary.

“And it angered me, because I run almost daily around here and I don’t want him to take away my freedom to go running,” she said. “That’s why I want people to know about it.”

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