Woman attacked on hiking trail in Canton; authorities search for suspect

CANTON, Ohio - Stark Parks rangers are putting out a warning to the public after a woman was attacked on a hiking trail in Canton on Tuesday.

A woman in her mid-twenties was approached by a man on the Middle Branch Trail between Martindale and Spangler parks, according to the Stark Parks Ranger's office. The man asked her for the time and then assaulted her, authorities said.

The woman screamed and the man fled the scene with her cell phone, according to rangers.

Park Canine Rangers, local and county police departments, and the Ohio State Highway Patrol began a search for the man. Authorities believe the suspect is 35 to 40 years old, has tattoos on both arms and some facial hair. He may be a known sexual offender, according to officials.

The public is reminded to use caution when using parks or trails, especially when alone.

Rangers released the following list for safe park and trail use:

  • Travel in pairs.
  • Always tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back.
  • Travel with a cell phone.
  • Do not run, walk or bike with ear buds or any other device that could obstruct hearing.
  • Don't be afraid to be rude — don't talk to strangers.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and know where you are at all times — look for trailhead or mile markers.
  • If you see something, say something. There's no issue the Rangers won't respond to.
  • Make your report immediately. Don't wait until a day or two later. Rangers investigate all calls as they come in.
  • Always call 911 for emergencies.
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