Originally created 08/12/02

The worst nightmare



Although most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows - a friend, acquaintance or even a family member - the scariest assault, the kind that strikes deep fear into a community, is the one where a stranger attacks, seemingly out of nowhere.

This happened to a 19-year-old Aiken County woman one night last week. She stopped her unlocked car at a red light on River Watch Parkway at Alexander Drive when a man ran up to her vehicle and, before she had a chance to figure out what was happening, opened the door, climbed in and pointed a gun at her.

This was a random act, and, sadly, incredibly bad luck for the woman. She was "chosen" because the carjacker and his two friends following closely behind liked the rims on her car. So they decided to steal it. They saw their opportunity at the stoplight, and took it.

However, they didn't just take the car. They also abducted the woman, raped and robbed her. At least she is alive, and thank God for that. But it's the nightmare of every woman and every man who loves a woman.

Later, due to some excellent teamwork between police authorities in Richmond and Aiken counties and North Augusta, three young Augusta men were arrested and charged with the crime.

But as Richmond County sheriff's Maj. Ken Autry said, the carjacking and rape in a strange neighborhood "just sends chills down your spine ... It's terrible. I know it's devastating to that little girl."

Indeed it is, and the ugly incident should be a reminder to everyone, especially women, that it's dangerous out there and a little fear is a good thing if it leads to some common-sense precautions.

First, police advise to always keep your doors locked; locking up should be as automatic as buckling up. Most carjackers will back off when they realize vehicle entry will be complicated or difficult.

Second, leave enough space between your vehicle and the one in front so you can drive around the car or escape on the shoulder if the carjacker gets aggressive.

These are simple safety tips, but if they're neglected, the next nightmare could be yours.