Everett residents spring to action after trail attack


Herald Writer

EVERETT — It’s a crusade.

Paulene Watson and Matt Thompson haven’t formally met yet. But both are in vigorous pursuits to make a difference in the community after the brutal stabbing of a 14-year-old girl along the city’s Interurban Trail on Monday.

Neither know the family of the recovering girl, but each are working on ways to improve the trail. Ideas are to add lighting or signs, cut overgrown weeds and tree limbs or even install emergency kiosks with speaker phones along the trail.

"One thing I’m really afraid of is that I don’t want it to be one of those things where in two months from now nobody cares," Watson said, adding that she’s talked to dozens of people who want to help. "Somebody has to do something."

Thompson has done a lot of legwork since Monday’s attack. He’s made phone calls to decision makers, visited the trail and made lists of possible improvements.

Officials from Snohomish County PUD, the state Department of Transportation and the city police and parks departments will meet Monday to talk about a plan to make some changes along the trail, said Neil Neroutsosc, PUD spokesman.

Bob Cooper, city parks director, said the city is open to ideas and is considering adding signs that say the trail is closed from dusk to dawn.

At this point, Cooper said he has concerns over installing lighting there, however.

"Lighting that path may encourage people to use it at hours that we don’t want them out there anyway," he said. "We actually don’t want people on the trail in the dark."

Watson said safety issues are a community problem. Community members need to lead the fight for change so the city knows what direction to take, she said.

"I’m afraid to walk down those trails, but the trail is a great idea," she said, adding that maybe volunteers could patrol the area.

Watson said emergency kiosks are a great idea; the direct voice links to police have become popular at college campuses such as Everett Community College.

EvCC spokesman Pat McClain said the college installed five kiosks a few years ago.

The 10-foot or 12-foot tall kiosks are lighted, include Braille and have an emergency button and speaker. Someone can push the button and have a direct link to security, he said.

That’s helpful, because so many people walk the EvCC campus at all hours, including students taking night classes or children walking in the mornings to a nearby elementary school.

Each kiosk costs about $5,000.

"It’s comforting to know you have security … that if something is amiss, you can get ahold of somebody," McClain said.

Eastmont resident Thompson has worked his phone all week trying to find partnerships among the community and various agencies.

"Kids are important," he said. "We’ve got kids who are at risk, and now we’ve got kids getting hurt. If it was a random act of violence, that’s even worse yet."

Thompson suggested an adopt-the-trail program, getting the right people together to clear the brush and clean out the litter in the woods nearby.

He also suggested improving existing trails that link the neighborhoods to the Interurban along a 12-block stretch near where the girl was attacked. That way, Thompson said, people could get off the trail if they needed to.

"Open up access, and that will discourage (transient) camping," he said.

Thompson said he learned some surprising news on Thursday when he stopped and talked to a man drinking alcohol and walking along the trail a little past noon. Joggers and walkers use the trail for recreation. But transients use it as a north and south thoroughfare, he learned.

"I had an opportunity to talk about what was happening on the trail," he said. "There are a lot of areas between here and Seattle where homeless folks are hanging (out)."

Thompson said he hopes more people join in efforts to make the community safer.

"It’s unfortunate that you have to have an incident before people come together," he said. "If you’ve got good ideas, make sure people know what they are."

Talk to us

More in Local News

A few weeks before what could be her final professional UFC fight, Miranda Granger grimaces as she pushes a 45-pound plate up her driveway on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Her daughter Austin, age 11 months, is strapped to her back. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Daily Herald staff wins 5 honors at annual journalism competition

The Herald got one first-place win and four runner-up spots in SPJ’s Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest.

Panelists from different areas of mental health care speak at the Herald Forum about mental health care on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At panel, mental health experts brainstorm answers to staff shortages

Workforce shortages, insurance coverage and crisis response were in focus at the Snohomish forum hosted by The Daily Herald.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Report of downed hot air balloon turns up farmer’s tarp near Snohomish

Two 911 callers believed they saw a hot air balloon crash, leading to a major search-and-rescue response. It was a false alarm.

People gather for a color throw at Stanwood and Camano’s first-ever Pride celebration on Saturday, June 4, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘We’ve at least come a little ways’: Snohomish to host first Pride event

A 10 a.m. parade on First Street will be followed by a pop-up market with 60 vendors, a downtown wine walk, queer cabaret and more.

The site of a former 76 gas station and a handful of century old buildings will be the location for new apartments buildings at the corner of Pacific and Rucker on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Old gas station demolished for apartments in downtown Everett

A 200-unit apartment complex between three and seven stories tall is proposed at Pacific and Rucker avenues.

Kamiak High School is pictured Friday, July 8, 2022, in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Kamiak football coach fired amid sexual misconduct investigation

Police believe Julian Willis, 34, sexually abused the student in portable classrooms on Kamiak High School’s campus.

Police: Marysville man fist-bumped cop, exposing tattoos of wanted robber

The suspect told police he robbed three stores to pay off a drug debt. He’d just been released from federal prison for another armed robbery.

People begin marching down First Street with a giant balloon “PRIDE” during Snohomish’s inaugural Pride celebration on Saturday, June 3, 2023, in downtown Snohomish, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
GALLERY: Snohomish hosts first official Pride celebration

Scenes from the parade and other events celebrating LGBTQIA culture and people in downtown Snohomish.

Cat killed, 9 people displaced after duplex fire in Everett

None of the people were injured in the fire reported around 1:15 a.m. in the 11500 block of Meridian Avenue S.

Most Read