A young woman was sent to the hospital Monday evening after a vicious attack along the Mission Creek Greenway. Police say the woman was walking alone when she was hit over the head by an unkown man, dragged off the trail into the bushes and sexually assaulted.
Shortly after receiving the report at 8:45 p.m. police arrived at the park entrance near Durnin and Springfield Road to help the 22-year-old woman suffering from non-life-threatening injuries.
Police are calling the attack a sexual assault. RCMP spokesperson Const. Kris Clark said police don't yet have a description of the man responsible and expects it could be a couple of days, if at all.
While police have reports of several gropings in the past few years, an attack of this severity is not common. Some people using the trail this afternoon were surprised to hear of the attack.
Naomie Quock took her daughter to the park this morning and used the trail regularly with her family before moving to Vernon.
“Sometimes when they had the wildlife signs up we got a little nervous... that's more what we're anxious about,” she says.
Quock said she wouldn't feel comfortable coming to the trail alone.
“Being in Kelowna I typically don't go to these kinds of places anymore, you hear more and more in the newspaper,” she says.
Another trail user, Mark Tromsness, said he walks the Greenway daily and was surprised to hear of the incident.
“That's very rare but it does happen," he said, adding, “I would say it's an isolated incident. I've very rarely seen anything but friendly people jogging and walking.”
Chris Pomeroy, also walking the trail today with her three dogs said, "I've seen some questionable people on this trail, but I think people shouldn't live in fear. If you have people who start to avoid using it then the people who are there will be even more vulnerable,” she says.
Pomeroy says the Greenway is a great place to walk and people should continue using it as normal. But she says there's room for people to be more vigilant about their safety even if it means walking in pairs or having canine company.
"Bring two Shelties and a Border Collie,” she says, gesturing to her pets. “It might be good to have some more awareness, getting the story out there, maybe posting some stuff around."
That is also the message Kelowna RCMP are trying to deliver. Police are urging trail users to walk, bike and travel with a friend and to avoid isolated areas. Those who decide to walk alone should always be alert to their surroundings.
RCMP will be providing more details on the suspect's description and are also asking other hikers and bikers who may have witnessed the incident Monday night to help identify the suspect.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at email@example.com or call (250)718-0428.