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Runners share safety tips, after weekend sexual assault

Kumi Tucker
Updated: September 28, 2020 07:25 PM
Created: September 28, 2020 05:59 PM

MALTA -- Authorities say a jogger was attacked on the popular Zim Smith Trail in Malta by Tyler Gaston of Clifton Park. 

The attack happened on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at about 3:45 p.m. near Rhule Road South.

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Concerns about exactly this kind of attack have passed through the minds of many runners. 

"It is something that we constantly talk about," said runner Lonnie Halusic. "We remind each other of being safe and don't run in that location or do you want me to run with you, turn your music down when you're running, just those little things to be vigilant all the time."

Halusic was angry when she read about this weekend's sexual assault.  She's an experienced runner and triathlete who comes this spot often. This is a popular trail with runners, walkers, bikers, and families.

Investigators say the victim had stopped when a man came up behind her. 

Sheriff Michael Zurlo called it a heinous attack, and thanked the public for its help. 

"We then canvassed the area, were able to come up with a witness that saw a suspicious male in the area, was able to provide us with a vehicle description," he said.

It wasn't long before investigators tracked down the suspect -- 26-year-old Tyler Gaston of Clifton Park, who is now charged with sexual abuse and assault. 

Zurlo urges people to be aware. 

"Only put one earbud in," said the sheriff.  "Leave the other one out so you can hear your surroundings around you, if somebody comes up behind you." 
 
Halusic always carries her phone, she tells her husband where she'll be running, she's careful to chart out her route, and runs when people will be around.

"My head is -- I feel like I'm always on a swivel. If somebody passes me, I'll just make sure that they haven't turned to follow me," she said. 

The sheriff's department would like to hear from anyone who has information about the Gaston.  


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