Aurora residents address safety along High Line Canal trail

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) – The High Line Canal is one of the longest urban trails in the country, attracting nearly 500,000 people each year. But some recent violent crimes on or near the canal in Aurora have some people worried about safety after a recent shooting nearby.

“Well several people who walk called me and texted me, ‘I’m not doing that on the canal with you anymore.’ Oh no, that’s not what I’m about,” Debbie Hunter Holen said.

Hunter Holen has lived near the canal for 32 years. “It’s beautiful, by South Middle School. I’m walking all the time. I love it. It’s so spiritual, homey, renewing. What I’m concerned about is the perception that it’s bad. There happened to be a shooting that was near the canal last Sunday,” she said.

“I do this almost every day, it’s part of my life,” Lena Florio said. “I’ve been living here close to 50 years. I haven’t been bothered. I think it’s sad we have to be locked up from nature, carry guns, carry mace, which my daughter hollers at me for. But I have my umbrella.”

Hunter Holen walks this path nearly every day, taking pictures and sharing them on social media. She said it’s not bad, despite a few isolated incidents, including her own brutal attack one year ago.

“What happened to me was very much random. It was totally random. I feel fortunate it was me. I was the last person this individual was able to hurt,” Hunter Holen said.

Aurora Police arrested her alleged attacker shortly after the incident. Hunter Holen said the community rallied around her, giving her strength to heal and to return to her daily walks along the High Line Canal. “I’m about getting out there, walking, reclaiming it,” she said.

Many walkers agreed with her. “I’m an old time hippie, I don’t think we worry about minor things like that. I’m not gonna stop living because people are weird,” Florio said.

Safety experts say you should be aware of your surroundings no matter where you are. That includes taking out your ear pieces so you can hear what’s going on around you.

Hunter Holen is working with the High Line Canal Conservancy to do some focus groups to find out what residents would like to see improved. In the meantime, she wants people to feel comfortable and safe here.

“Come out and enjoy the canal and have fun and interact with it. I promise you will feel better when you leave,” Hunter Holen said.

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