The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Local News

June 26, 2014

Community walks in support of woman who was attacked

More than 60 walkers “took back the trail” Saturday in an organized walk down the White Oak Rail Trail in Oak Hill in a show of unity with a local woman who was attacked there June 14.

Regina Mims of Oak Hill organized the walk after the woman was tied up and sexually assaulted on the trail June 14 by a stranger who wielded a knife and told her he was going to leave but that he would return to kill her.

The woman freed herself from the restraints and sprinted to a house on Allman Street to notify authorities.

Oak Hill police arrested Thomas Gene Carter, 47, of Oak Hill, June 15 after receiving a report that he was hiding under the porch of an Allman Street mobile home.

Mims said she didn’t want to call the attacked woman a “victim.”

“She was a victim of her circumstances, but she’s not a victim,” said Mims. “She’s a hero. She prevented

anyone else from getting hurt because she gave a total description to the police.”

Braving scattered rain showers and overcast skies Saturday, supporters walked in groups of two and three, and some of them rode bicycles, down the honeysuckle-bordered trail.

One 5-month-old boy, Anders Prior, made the trek from the White Oak Railroad Depot on Virginia Street to the Allman Street terminus with his parents, Jeff and Heidi Prior, and the family dog.

“We were really upset by the events because we use this trail every day,” said Heidi Prior. “Lots of times, I use this trail with just me and the baby.”

“We think it’s important for the community to do what it can to keep it safe,” said Jeff. “It’s the community’s trail.”

The City of Oak Hill has paved 6 miles of the 8-mile walking trail, which runs from Summerlee Road in Summerlee to Route 612 in Carlisle.

While support for the survivor was high, walkers also emphasized that they were not going to allow the trail to become a place where criminals lurk to take advantage of citizens who are using it for exercise.

“Me and my wife walk the trail every day,” said Terry Groves, 60, a disabled veteran who is retired from the military and National Park Service. “We walk that particular stretch of the trail every night.

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