Victim describes attempted abduction on lakefront trail

June 16, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The woman was the victim of an attempted kidnapping, police said, near 35th Street last Friday. The police warning was issued Wednesday night to alert joggers and others who enjoy the Chicago lakefront.

According to the police alert, a 30-year-old woman was jogging last Friday on the bike path near the 3500-block of S. Lake Shore Drive at around 2 p.m. when, she told police, the offender grabbed her from behind and tried to pull her to an unspecified location.

After a brief struggle, the woman broke free and escaped. She was able to flag down somebody driving by who called the police.The man got away running northbound on the bike path, according to the victim and investigators.

"He charged me and he put me in a choke hold," the woman, who wants to remain anonymous, told ABC7. "I kept scratching him and scratching him, and he let go and then he tried to grab my wrist and you could see my feet drag marks in the mud."

The victim describes her attacker as a young African-American male, between 19 and 21 years of age, close to 6 feet tall, weighing about 200 pounds with a dark brown complexion.

"I just kept fighting him and I twisted my arms and he got loose and he grabbed me one more time, and I got my arms loose again and just ran," she said."I didn't sense anything at all. I just felt like he was a young boy playing basketball."

Jogger April Prayer says she typically feels safe when she runs down the bike path along S. Lake Shore Drive, but the police alert has her rethinking her route.

"As soon as I saw the newscast, I was like, 'Oh my God, that's the same route I take,' and I was just noticing how wooded it is along here, and how you really can't get to the road, so I'm probably going to turn around here today because of that," said Prayer.

"I was really surprised that it happened at two o'clock in the afternoon, when people are around, so that was a little alarming, but it wouldn't surprise me in this area, because this is sort of a hidden path," said jogger Julie Welborn.

Some people who exercise regularly in the area said they almost never see anything suspicious.

"It's scary - very scary," said jogger Bill Hynes. "I've been running out here for 10 years, and I think this is the first time I have ever heard of anyone being assaulted on the trail - so it's real upsetting."

The community alert is reinforcing what many people already do to stay safe.

"Make sure I run with my partner, for sure, and...just be aware of my surroundings," said Welborn. "I'll definitely be concerned about going to the bathrooms."

Police have not put out a sketch of the suspect. Police ask anyone who notices suspicious activity in the area to report it to authorities.

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