The Voice of Wakefield High School

The Howler

The Voice of Wakefield High School

The Howler

The Voice of Wakefield High School

The Howler

Creepy Conversations | Episode 7
Creepy Conversations | Episode 7
Nic Cazin, Co-Editor-in-Chief • December 7, 2023

Crime at the Falls of Neuse trail: how local students can stay safe

As+leaves+turn+yellow%2C+runners+and+bikers+flock+to+the+Falls+of+Neuse+trail+to+enjoy+the+beautiful+scenery%3B+but+with+recent+crime+reports%2C+trail+users+should+proceed+with+caution.
Staff Photo by Hannah Kilian
As leaves turn yellow, runners and bikers flock to the Falls of Neuse trail to enjoy the beautiful scenery; but with recent crime reports, trail users should proceed with caution.

Just down the street from Wakefield High School lies a 34-mile-long, heavily wooded, paved greenway: the Falls of Neuse trail. This beautiful path provides a great place for students and Wakefield residents to exercise with views of the river and lake, but recent crime on the trail may be discouraging some from taking advantage of this resource. After an incident this October in which a man was arrested for allegedly attempting to dump a body in the Falls of Neuse River, right beside the trail, the Wake County Sheriff’s office is working hard to ensure that trail users are safe. While this is a seemingly isolated incident, runners and bikers alike must know how to stay safe on the trail.

Fortunately, although occasional crimes have occurred near the trail, many students still feel safe while running there, at least during the day. One of these students who frequents the trail is Savannah Song, a senior. 

“In summer, I run on the trail three times a week,” Song said. “I’d say it’s safe. During the day there’s a lot of people, so if something happens, someone will come by.” 

Situational awareness can help all trail users stay safe, especially those who wear noise-canceling earbuds. Senior Alexis Gabriel knows firsthand just how distracting these earbuds can be. 

“[When] I wear AirPods, I’m not worried about what’s around me too much,” Gabriel said. 

If you’re playing with your music, you might not hear someone come up behind you.

— Davis

Earbuds aren’t the only factor that can diminish a runner’s awareness of their surroundings. When the trail is dark, it is more difficult for runners to notice what’s around them, especially due to the abundant trees surrounding the path.

Time of day also plays a large role in how safe trail users feel while exercising. School resource officer Kelly Stapleton knows how important staying alert while running during the daytime can be. 

“Obviously, during daylight hours it’s going to be significantly safer than at 2 a.m.,” Stapleton said. “[If you’re using earbuds,] have one in and one out, that way you can still listen to your music and [stay] in tune with what you’re doing.”

Paying attention to your surroundings is always important, especially in secluded parts of the trail. Since the trail is over 30 miles long, each stretch of trail is surrounded by an area of a different safety level.​​ Thankfully, technology can help students be aware of nearby threats. Dwayne Davis, Wakefield’s resource officer, hopes students understand the importance of using technology as a safety tool, instead of letting it be a distraction.

“If you’re playing with your music, you might not hear someone come up behind you,” Davis said.

Simple safety precautions like staying close to others, only wearing one earbud and running during the daytime can ensure all trail users are safe and having fun. Thankfully, many trail users still feel safe at the trail, and have continued to use it. 

“I bring my kids down there all the time, [and] they’ll go run, but our rule is you have to be able to see us,” Stapleton said.



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  • K

    KatieDec 1, 2023 at 11:12 pm

    This is so good Hannah!

    Reply