Saturday, June 13, 2009

Seething mad

I learned today that my 20 year old son was assaulted on the river trail this morning.  He was riding his bike home (yes at a ridiculous hour, and yes I had told him it was not street smart to ride the remote forested trial in the dark because it is secluded). He is an adult and he made this choice. 
This is a city paved trail that has parks & benches along the way the more metro part has lights, but at some point it changes to the periphery & is on the outskirts of town- still paved, but not lit & more forested. He was riding & called out to a group of pedestrians spread out, blocking the trail,  *passing on your left*, trail etiquette heads up for pedestrians to kindly move over. Well, that is the way it works in daytime hours anyway. But at 4 am, when no one else is around, the pedestrians might just opt to knock you off your bike & rough you up a bit. Rough enough to crack your bike helmet. Rough enough to split your lip. Rough enough to cause extreme swelling over his eye. Rough as in kicking a person and punching them while down on the ground.
After he got back on his bike, they chased him further until they got to the street by the railroad. 
He must have been on some kind of adrenaline dazed rush, his bike did not clear the curb & he was literally between 2 sets of train tracks getting his ribs kicked, face punched. Six guys basically beating the crap out of him. 

They did not take his brand new bike he just got for cross country riding. 
They did not take his wallet or money. 

But as fate would have it, at some point an SUV drove by, saw the assault & called 911. 
The Police arrived while the crime was in progress, and arrested 2 people. The others scattered. But the SUV people were able to identify a 3rd suspect. 

He later told me one of them had a gun. Both the SUV people and my son observed a gun. 

This is a worst nightmare scenario. 

He said 6 of the 7 were wearing red hoodies.  Is it a Gang?
Was he on their turf?

My son himself said...... "I could have died". 

He's right, and I am seething mad.  Waiting to hear back from the Officer who responded (looks like 5 did & maybe a K9 unit ???). We've lived in this town for 25 years without incident. 
But my friend said if you read the police incident reports, "you'd never go out."

He's OK, and perhaps wiser, but thankfully, alive & on the mend.
And a huge heartfelt THANK YOU to those Good Samaritan people, who had the compassion to call the Police. The police report states they wish to remain anonymous, but the truth is they may have saved a life- my son's life. It was a simple thing to do-- just call to have Officers check it out, it probably only took a minute or two. I am so appreciative that they saw something was wrong/bad and took action.  I want to encourage us all to do the same. If your gut tells you something is wrong, or obviously some crime or crisis is taking place- there is no harm in making the call. You may save a life, and can choose to be an anonymous hero.... but Heros for sure!!! Thank you anonymous callers for your true humanity that caused you to take action. 

What kind of world do we live in where people just randomly beat others for sport?


Karen Zipdrive said...

Jeeze, I'm glad he's okay and especially glad they caught some of the perps.
But maybe riding alone in a dense area at 4 a.m. isn't as safe as it used to in 1947.
Please shake your finger in his little face--you're still the Mama.

Fran said...

After I hugged him with gusto for a long & sincere time. I listened to him try to brush it off that it was no big deal, after he just finished saying he *could have died*.
Don't be smug about this, I told him as I handed him the canister of Pepper spray.
He's also going to get the lecture about Why didn't you call me? He said he just wanted to go home.
Hello! The guy with the gun was still *at large* and a few of his pals just went to jail- probably not a good time to be cruising the neighborhood.

I've always told him if he EVER needs help to call & I've had to respond to various stuff - him being hit by a car, multiple flat tires/stranded kind of thing.

More discussions will be had about debriefing this incident when I take him to get a new helmet, & his bike to the shop for brake repair & to get the wheel trued or replaced.

Yea we'll be saving receipts too.

All day I found myself scowling at young punk looking types. Got myself a canister of pepper spray too.

Dada said...

Scary, scary story. So glad your son is going to be ok. The bike can be repaired, helmet replaced, but the immediate reaction to this incident, "I could have been killed" pretty well sums it up.

No telling how far a group of bullies or gang will go when their herd mentality takes over.

Thankfully someone responded with a call for help. What a hard way to learn a very valuable lesson. It could have been far, far costlier.

I often wonder at the different take on reality law enforcement officers get of our communities after working night shifts?

So glad they caught a couple of these guys.

Christopher said...

He's lucky he wasn't killed.

People are rolled for much less than they thrill of attacking an innocent person.

If he insists on riding his bike, alone at night, he needs to stay on well-lit surface streets and not go off into a dark forest and always, ALWAYS, carry a cell phone.

I know crime happens everywhere but in Eugene, OR? A college town? It just sounds so calm and bucolic -- not the place where such an attack would happen. He's lucky it wasn't worse.

Mauigirl said...

So sorry to hear about this! I'm glad he's OK! It does shake your sense of confidence and well-being when something like this happens. My husband was held up at gunpoint in our local park on his way home from the train one early evening at around 6 p.m. - in daylight. Luckily the guy just took his wallet and ran back to a car parked on the street and drove off. The car had no license plate.

It is a very scary thing and the violence makes it even worse for your son, plus the fact you live in a less urban area than we do. I guess nowhere is really safe anymore.

A World Quite Mad said...

I've lived in some bad places, and I wouldn't go out with a group of people to an area like that at that hour.

Of course, I've lived in places where one time a group of five guys got held up at gun point and mugged at 7pm, still daylight, in a park that's full of people at that hour. So it can happen at any time, and apparently anywhere.

I'm glad he's okay, and hope he learns a lesson from this. It doesn't matter how safe you think your town is, it probably isn't. The papers don't report gangs and crime half the time, because they're afraid it will scare people, and they'll not want to live in or visit the town.

Fran said...

Dada~ It really was herd mentality- they were not after his valuable goods, just into kicking him around and "devaluing" his life. Believe me I understand this could have been so much worse.
You make a good point about the night shift cops seeing the ugly underbelly of society.

Christopher~ He really IS lucky he was not killed. This is no time for me to say *I told you so* (about riding on the secluded/dark path).... but I have been out on my bike when it got late/dark, riding with my husband we have lights on the bikes, but the trail in parts,gets pitch black.... not only is there the feeling of being isolated, but just a rogue branch on the trail could trip you up & pitch you off your bike.
The trail is for bikes & pedestrians only, so it does feel safer than riding on streets w traffic, but it puts a person in a vulnerable/isolated situation.
The tradeoff is to be in a more populated area, but then having to be more defensive in riding amongst cars.
He is an avid bicyclist, and at this time refuses to own a car. In fact he's been training to do a part of a cross country sustainable/alternative energy bike ride.
He does always carry his cell phone with him, but the way things happened so quickly, and that he was vastly outnumbered prevented him from using it. He was preoccupied blocking incoming hits, and if he had taken it out, they probably would have taken it from him & or destroyed it.
I think there has been some recent influx of gangs moving in. Because the town is a mellow college town, it may be a perfect setting for thugs.

Maui~ Wow Gunpoint robbery in broad daylight?
That would rattle one's confidence. My son did say "My perspective about Eugene has changed"...
I know he thought I was being paranoid or acting like a Mother Hen, when I told him a couple years ago- I don't recommend riding the trail in the late & dark & all the reasons why.
But I do know it just takes one thug to ruin everything. It is just too vulnerable a setting.
I'm hoping Seven thugs convinced him he needs to take a different route.

We have to go about living our lives, but you try to be street smart, and make choices that give you the best odds. And carry pepper spray!

AWQM~ I am still waiting to hear from the police.
Our police have been pretty good about information sharing... in fact they actually caught 2 guys who were doing a thing where they would get in a car like a car-jacking & demand the driver go to an ATM & withdraw money. they did this on 2 different occasions. Police put the info out there- like on the front page newspaper headline & tips called in lead them to find & arrest the two.
You are right though... truth is anything can happen, and your handle name captures the situation.... a world quite mad. Ugh!

nonnie9999 said...

omg! thank g-d he's okay. he's so lucky that good people were passing by. i hope he heals quickly and well. i know his mama will take good care of him.

Dada said...

Mrs. Dada -- when I told her of this incident, this unwarranted attack -- mentioned "PTSD"...hmmm, I had to roll it off my tongue, "post-traumatic stress syndrone"

Wow! No mention of combat related stresses. Then I remembered the theft of my car in 1970 (recovered, wrecked) and the years it took me to just get over that -- (I was not physically attacked) and concluded: "Yeh, right, why not PTSD?" This was a life altering event that will stay with one for -- at the least -- some years to come (if not, more likely, life).

Fran said...

Well,we've since discovered there is bleeding from the nose (when blowing the nose), and that had me totally freaked out. We had the discussion there are times when you don't *ask* for time off work-- you TELL them you can't be there.
After juggling around, we were able to get him to urgent care to be checked out.
Probably a concussion, no need for extra tests they examined his jaw. nose, etc.
So we have that piece of mind.
Still such a serious matter. Rattled to the core.

Fran said...

Make that PEACE of mind... not piece.....

We had a long debriefing session tonight after dinner & urgent care. Mellow music & some get real talk about street smarts & why being on well lit more populated areas gives you more opportunities to avoid

D.K. Raed said...

Of course I am late reading of this horrible incident but nonetheless very upset by it. I would imagine your feelings jumped from anger to relief to anger and back many times. It's good your son got medical attn to check for concussion because that is no longer just a simple head knock. His helmut, even if it did crack, probably saved him from a lot worse!

If the muggers weren't after your son's "valuables" (other than his life), what motive? Can it be that just calling out a simple trail heads-up caused a group reaction ... like here is a guy all alone late at night no one around, let's get him? If so, what does that say about anyone's safety anywhere? There are many times, day or night, that you find yourself out of sight of others, when you would be vulnerable.

And as far as other people intervening, that was a stroke of good luck for your son, but one that you can never rely on. They just happened to be the kind of people who would actually call for police, but are probably now scared that the criminals saw their license plate and might track them down.

Gangs in Eugene? You can get more info from the police, especially the particular officers who responded. They have statistics for your & your son's neighborhood. They will also come do a neighborhood lecture if you care to sponsor one, or at your son's school or workplace if they care to sponsor one. Sometimes, hearing the same info, not just from you but from police, makes a bigger impression!

But, again, I'm so glad that your son is OK, and hopefully that he will make alternative arrangements to travel in those iffy areas.

ps, I've been carrying pepper spray attached to my carkey ring for decades, replacing it every couple years. It's the kind you can unlock with your thumb, point & spray. I figure I always have my carkeys in hand as I walk to & from my car. Heaven help me if I ever had to fish around in my purse or fannypack!

Billie Greenwood said...

Oh Fran, I'm so distressed by this incident, and I am--like you--shaken by the gravity of it all. What a relief that he escaped. I'm glad some of the offenders were apprehended. But the incident will likely continue to wield a powerful influence. Sending my wishes that it will be an influence for good.

Fran said...

It's been an exhausting time. The arresting officer has not yet called me back... but I did research of my own.
Those arrested are juveniles.
I attended the arraignment.
I got a glimpse of the legal system in action....
a view of how troubled lives spin out of control.
They are making choices that are screwing up their own plans & opportunities.

Thanks for your good thoughts.