Sheriff's Office urges vigilance after Avila trail attack



The SLO County Sheriff’s Office is telling people to hike area trails with safety in mind after a report of an attempted kidnapping on a trail in Avila Beach.

The incident occurred around 2:45 p.m. on the Avila Ridge Trail. According to the Sheriff’s Office officials, a woman was walking on the trail when she encountered a man who was sitting down and appeared to be looking at the ocean. After she passed him, the man began to follow her. The man then tried to grab her and drag her into nearby bushes. A press release from the Sheriff’s Office said the woman escaped and ran from her attacker, who also fled the scene. The woman suffered scratches to her face and neck, but didn’t require any medical attention.

The suspect was described as a light-skinned Hispanic male adult in his 50s with green eyes, “patchy” facial hair, and was last seen wearing white mesh athletic shorts and no shirt. As of press time on June 24, he hadn’t been found.

In the wake of the attack, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Cipolla offered several safety tips for hikers using local trails. Cipolla said hikers should be aware of their surroundings while using the trails and keep an eye out for suspicious activity. He also recommend bringing a charged cell phone on hikes for emergency situations, and suggested that some hikers could carry pepper spray for personal protection. Finally, Cipolla advised hikers to make others aware of their plans.

“Always make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back,” he said.

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