ROANOKE — After a fatal stabbing on the Appalachian Trail last month, the nonprofit that manages the trail has streamlined its safety reporting web page.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has redesigned the way hikers can report incidents, from suspicious activity to vandalism to encounters with bears.
A bright red 911 button, a National Park Service phone number, an email address and online reporting forms are included on the site.
“We still had links in there, but it was not as visually clear,” said Jordan Bowman, communications manager for the conservancy. “The way we designed it now ... their eye will immediately jump to the big red 911 if there’s an emergency.”
Bowman said the changes were prompted by the attacks that culminated in the death of Ronald Sanchez Jr., a 43-year-old Army veteran. Another hiker, James Louis Jordan, 30, is charged with his death and with assault with intent to commit murder on another hiker.
In the weeks leading up to the May 11 attack, Jordan had been a source of fear to hikers as he made his way on the Appalachian Trail. Court documents say he was arrested on misdemeanor charges in Tennessee after threatening hikers and later told hikers in Virginia he would pour gasoline on their tents and set them on fire.
The conservancy made the updates to the incident reporting page because it knew hikers would be looking for such information, particularly in light of the attacks, Bowman said.
The online incident form was redesigned with mobile phone users in mind, he said. Previously, the form was a downloadable PDF that would have to be emailed back.
Bowman said the page likely will be revised again in the future to make it even easier to use.
The incident reporting page can be found at appalachiantrail.org under the “Explore” tab.