SACRAMENTO — A string of attacks on bikers at the American River Parkway, all involving allegedly homeless attackers using rocks, has cyclists and county officials concerned.
It’s the peaceful escape from the noise of the city that draws cyclists to the American River Parkway’s trails in Northern Sacramento. Last week, that peace was rocked for Kevin Meagher — quite literally.
“There was a guy coming the opposite direction on a bike as well, I saw he was holding something. He threw a rock at me at the last second,” said Meagher.
It took Meagher, who was on his normal bike route Wednesday, by surprise and landed him in the hospital.
“I had problems breathing. Really hurt to breathe, and my lung was collapsed for about 10 or 15 minutes, said Meagher.
The attack was one of three instances in a two-week span where innocent victims were hit with rocks.
Meagher believes his attacker was homeless. According to Sacramento police and Sacramento County Park Rangers, so do the other victims.
As other cyclists around the parkway will tell you, there are quite a few homeless camps along these trails.
“Every dirt trail that you see from this point on, if you walk down them you’ll see one,” said Joe Tejeda a regular cyclist.
“I think it’s out of control,” said Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna when asked about the homeless encampment issue at the parkway.
Serna has been pushing for more funding to allow for more park rangers, to patrol and clear homeless camps. He says only 25 rangers patrol some 45 thousand acres.
Serna says the approach the county needs to take is two-fold, one of compassion for handling the homeless at the parkway, which requires more housing options; the second component being a need to keep the parkway safe for visitors, which he says, is sometimes difficult to do with various homeless camps at the parkway.
“I’ve heard people characterize it as criminalizing the homeless. I just don’t buy that,” said Serna.
“I really don’t know what needs to be done, if anything, I just know that I would like to be safe when I’m riding my bike down here,” said Meagher.
The suspect descriptions in at least two of the three cases are very different, leading Park Rangers to believe there isn’t one specific person perpetrating all of the attacks. Investigators say, as of Monday evening, they have no leads on suspects.