A woman in her 30s was assaulted as she jogged along the Bay Trail on Sunday morning when a man jumped on her back and groped her sexually over her clothing before she was able to push him away, according to police.
Police were called to the section of the Bay Trail between the bridge into East Palo Alto and the Baylands Athletic Center on Geng Road at 10:50 a.m. after two bicyclists approached the woman as she struggled with her attacker.
When the bicyclists neared, the attacker fled northbound and over the bridge into East Palo Alto, the woman said. The bicyclists left the scene after checking on the woman, according to a statement from the Palo Alto Police Department.
Police were unable to locate the man and said they are hoping to speak to the bicyclists who witnessed the attack.
The woman had first noticed the man as she entered the Baylands from the East Palo Alto bridge. The man, who police described as a Hispanic or black biracial around 20 years old, began following the woman, staying close behind her, according to police.
She began feeling uncomfortable and stopped three times, trying to let the man pass her on the trail. Each time, the man stopped behind her.
She continued jogging on the 3-mile Bay Trail loop, and the man attacked her when she was adjacent to the Palo Alto Golf course, the woman said.
According to police, the woman felt that the man was "attempting to take her to the ground," but she managed to stay on her feet.
The woman estimated the attacker to be about 5 feet 8 inches tall and 160 pounds. She said he had black hair, a closely cropped ("buzzed") haircut and was clean-shaven. He was wearing long blue shorts, a plain white T-shirt, white tennis shoes and had clear-colored studded earrings in both ears, police said.
Police spoke with another witness, a woman in her 40s who saw the same suspect between 9 and 10 a.m. According to the witness, the man came out of the men's restroom at the Baylands Athletic Center and followed her along the same trail.
Police said they are increasing patrols in the area, working with park rangers from the City of Palo Alto's Open Space, Parks, and Golf Division.
Police urge anyone with more information on the crime, including the two bicyclists who witnessed the attack, to contact police at 650-329-2413.
Anonymous tips can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.
Personal safety and crime prevention tips can be found on the City of Palo Alto's website at www.cityofpaloalto.org/StopCrime.