While a 34-year-old Fort Dodge woman was running on the Snell Crawford Trail on Tuesday morning, about a mile east of Snell Crawford Park, a man came up behind her and attempted to put his hand over her mouth.
"Thankfully the victim in this instance was prepared, was able to quickly respond and get away from the suspect," Police Chief Tim Carmody said in an email.
The woman began to yell and she swung her elbow to get away. The suspect broke away and ran west, back toward Snell Crawford Park.
She described the man as white, in his early 20s, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, average build, short sandy brown-colored hair and without facial hair or glasses.
He was wearing blue or denim shorts and a cream or khaki T-shirt and hiking boots.
The investigation has been taken over by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Fort Dodge Police Department, according to Carmody.
Here are some tips for staying safe in public:
Carry your phone - Your phone is your lifeline in case you get hurt or involved in an incident similar to the one reported Tuesday. The victim in this case did just that, by being prepared and carrying a cell phone to report the incident as soon as it was safe to do so.
Situational awareness - Citizens can help by planning ahead and by being aware of their surroundings. They should also report suspicious or criminal behavior immediately to 911.
Good witnesses - This is also a good reminder to pay attention to details. Although you may not be directly involved in an incident you may be a key witness. In suspicious or criminal incidents, people frequently see "something" before, during or immediately after the incident. The information you possess may be the key that helps prevent further incidents, apprehend a dangerous person, and/or provide closure to a victim and their family.
Run with a partner - In most cases, a suspect is looking for a victim of opportunity. That includes people alone in secluded places. That can be prevented by traveling, running or walking with a dog or another person.
"It also serves as a reminder of the very real need for us to be aware of our surroundings, have a plan and to be able to quickly react to changing circumstances," Carmody said. "It's also a good reminder that we all share in the quality of our community - in prevention, investigation and follow up of suspicious or criminal behavior."
As a result of the incident, police will have an increased presence near the trail system in Fort Dodge.
They are asking anyone with information to call the police department at 573-1426 or to contact Webster County Crime Stoppers by calling 573-1444, going online at www.wccrimestoppers.com or by texting "LEC" and the tip to CRIMES (274637).