Hikers on local trails surprised, saddened by deadly attack

Many had heard about attacker before Saturday incident

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – There were feelings of surprise and concern Monday for hikers on local trails who described a somber mood after a man attacked two hikers with a machete Saturday in Wythe County, killing one and injuring the other.

10 News spoke with many experienced hikers in Roanoke County who were saddened by the news of the attack but who still wanted to get back out onto local trails.

“We’ve been hiking for 20 years and you never really think about safety concerns. You’re always smart about traveling together ultimately but certainly it’s a bit of a shock to hear that actually. Very tragic,” D.C. resident Daniel Makitka said.

The hiking community is well-connected, with active online message boards. Many hikers had heard about other incidents involving the accused attacker before hearing about the news Saturday.

“People were talking about him just to watch out. Women get harassed,” said German resident Kristin Forster, who goes by the trail name "Ding Dong."

One man, Curtis Lagaisse, a Wisconsin resident whose nickname is Ice Pack, had even passed by the man weeks ago on a trail.

“The safest thing to do would be to hike with a friend if you have one but if you don’t try to avoid hiking at night. I make that decision every once in a while to hike at night. Now, knowing what happened, maybe I’ll think twice about it going forward,” Lagaisse, said.

He and Forster said they never could have imagined that what they heard about the accused attacker could have led to an attack like the one that happened Saturday.

Many feel that, despite what happened, everyone is still safe while hiking.

“I don’t think it changes anything safety-wise. I think we all just try to do our best to be as safe as we can and sometimes really horrible things happen, unfortunately,” New York resident Alie Gilbert said.

Hikers said traveling with a friend and avoiding hiking at night are good ways to try to increase safety. No hikers 10 News talked to Monday said they would carry weapons as a result of the recent attack.

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