Rescues can get expensive when hikers go astray


Published: Thursday, January 13, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 12, 2005 at 11:41 p.m.
Last week, a married coupled decided to take a five-mile hike at San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park, 45 minutes before dusk.
When the couple became separated, and the husband called 911 to say his wife was lost, sheriff's deputies were forced to use a helicopter to search the 6,900-acre park for the woman.
She was found 1 1/2 hours later. Lt. Jim Troiano of the Alachua County Sheriff's Office said in the past two years, the helicopter has been used eight or nine times to search for those who have wandered off the park's main trail.
The expensive and timely endeavor could be avoided if people planned to spend 2 1/2 to three hours on the trails before the park closed, park manager Randy Brown said.
"People are setting out and not allowing themselves enough time to walk the trails before it gets dark," Brown said.
Many hikers do not take the free maps or follow the color-coded directional markings.
"A lot of it's not using good common sense when you're in a wilderness area," Brown said. "If people use good judgment and stay aware of their surroundings, there really won't be a problem."
  • Fightin' back: January is Sexual Assault Awareness Month at the University of Florida, sponsored by the Center for Sexual Assault/Abuse Recovery and Education. Dr. Beth-Anne Blue, a coordinator for the group, said Wednesday's "5k Take Back the Night Safety Walk/Run" was held as part of efforts to change a culture on college campuses that allows sexual assaults to continue.
    "It's pretty well accepted that 85 percent of sexual assaults occur between people that know each other. We try to promote the idea that it's not OK," Blue said.
    In 2003, 15 forcible sex offenses were reported in the University of Florida's crime statistics, but Blue said many more go unreported."It's more difficult to come forward and report an assault when it's someone you know," she said.
    Other events include programs titled "Can I kiss you?" on Wednesday at 8 p.m. and "Teaching Women to Stand Up for Themselves, and Empowering Them with the Skills to Do So," on Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m., both at the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.
  • Winner's circle: Investiture ceremonies for two of the 8th Judicial Circuit's incoming judges will be held later this month.
    Walter Green, a former prosecutor and division chief at the State Attorney's Office County Court Division, was elected as an Alachua County judge in November. He replaced Ysleta McDonald, who vacated her position as a county judge to become a circuit judge. McDonald ran unopposed for the seat left by former Circuit Judge Chester Chance after he announced he would retire when his term expired this year.
    Green's investiture is scheduled for Jan. 20 at the Alachua County Courthouse Family and Civil Justice Center, 201 E. University Ave. The ceremony for McDonald is set for Jan. 28 at the Alachua County Courthouse Criminal Justice Center, 220 S. Main St.
    Meredith Mandell can be reached at (352) 338-3109 or mandelm@gvillesun.com.
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