The man — described by police as being between 50 to 70 years old, slender and roughly 6 feet tall with long and gray braided hair — reportedly drove a rusting gray or blue pickup from the late 1980s or early 1990s. He was reported to be wearing glasses at the time, but police said in an alert distributed to regional law enforcement agencies that it's currently unclear whether those were prescription glasses or sunglasses.
A woman identifying herself as the mother of one of the two children involved said in a Facebook posting that the attempted abduction occurred near Northwest College's nursing building, where the man tried pulling one of the children to his truck. The truck's left headlight was reportedly either out or dim.
The girls reportedly fought back against the man. One of the pre-teens bit the man's forearm and broke the skin while the other kicked him in the groin, according to the police teletype. The children ultimately got away. The mother said in a Facebook posting that the children were safe, but scared. Powell Police Chief Roy Eckerdt said the girls made the right decision to fight back.
Anyone with information about the incident or any similar incidents is asked to contact Powell police at 754-2212.
The incident reportedly occurred sometme between 8 p.m. and roughly 9:15 p.m. Wednesday, according to police; Eckerdt said his agency was called at 9:18 p.m.
“We’re continuing to investigate the situation and (will) see where that leads us," Eckerdt said Thursday evening.
In the meantime,"we need to step our awareness" of child safety as a community, the chief said.
Police notified Park County School District No. 1 on Thursday and the district alerted parents of students in an evening message distributed by phone and email.
"The details of the attempted abduction are very limited, however the suspect is still at large," school superintendent Kevin Mitchell said in Thursday's recorded message. "I encourage you to review the rules of 'stranger danger' with all of your children."
Northwest College also issued an alert through its emergency notification system Thursday evening to spread the word about the abduction attempt near campus.
"Please talk to your children," said a portion of the alert.
Parents should remind children not to accept rides from strangers and to use the "buddy system" by traveling in pairs, Eckerdt said. He also encouraged parents to develop a safety plan that includes identifying places with trusted adults — such as a family member, business or first responder — where children can seek refuge.
Eckerdt also said parents should know where their kids are and where they're going.
“Situational awareness is always important, both for the child and the parent," he added, referring to being aware of "what’s going on around you.”
Eckerdt also asked residents to call 911 as soon as possible if something like an abduction happens.
The Tribune will provide updates as they become available.