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Two local women attacked this week

BY ASHLEY DINGES
Daily Staff Reporter
Published February 4, 2004

Two women were allegedly attacked in the last two days in sexual
assaults that may be connected.

The first reported assault occurred in Washtenaw Community
College’s parking lot at about 6:30 p.m. Monday. David
Egeler, commander of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s
Department, said a man grabbed the victim from behind while she was
walking through the parking lot. He pulled her into his van, where
he allegedly raped her.

The second incident occurred shortly after midnight yesterday
morning. The victim was found running without a shirt down Geddes
Road in Superior Township after the alleged attack. A passing
motorist stopped to assist her.

“We don’t know if it was a sexual assault or not.
The victim fled the area before they had chance to talk to
her,” Egeler said.

The second incident was reported to the scheriff’s
department by the driver who stopped to help the woman and intended
to take her to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. But the victim jumped out
of the vehicle as the driver was talking on the phone with the
police.

Egeler said he suspects that the assaults may be related,
because similar vehicles were reported in both cases. They were
both described as dark-colored, full-size vans, and the vehicle in
the first incident was reported to have curtains over its
windows.

In the second incident, the suspected vehicle was sighted
farther up the road from the victim.

“She appeared to be running from something, scared. The
motorist drew the conclusion — right or wrong — that
the van was what the girl was running from,” Egeler said.

Sheriff Daniel Minzey, urged the second victim to contact the
department, either by phone or their confidential tip line, at
973-7711.

Although the University’s Department of Public Safety was
not involved in either incident, DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown
offered safety suggestions to students.

“What we’re always suggesting to folks is to adhere
to the buddy system — don’t walk alone, walk in
well-lit areas, stay away from bushes,” Brown said.

In addition to being aware of their surroundings, students
should use the blue light emergency phones, she urged.

“If you can get yourself to one of those, you don’t
even have to speak. You can just pick up the receiver and an
officer will be dispatched to the location,” Brown said.

The University offers several resources for students to prevent
assaults and promote safety, such as SAFE walk and the Sexual
Assault Prevention and Awareness Center’s 24-hour crisis line
for victims of sexual assaults.

The SAFE walk program is available 24 hours a day, seven days a
week and can transport students from any Central or North campus
building on any 20-minute walk or one-mile drive from the Central
or North campus diags. SAFE. Walk can be contacted at 763-9255.

As an alternative to walking, there are also two cab programs
available for students — Ride Home and Night Ride. Ride Home
is a free taxi service offered from both the Shapiro Undergraduate
Library and the former Media Union, and runs from 2 to 7 a.m.
during fall and winter semesters.

Night Ride is a low-cost, shared taxi service offered by the Ann
Arbor Transportation Authority, running 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday
through Friday, and 7 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Night
Ride can be reached at 663-3888.


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