Contributed photo Photo of her son’s injuries after assault at Bakerview.

South Surrey park attack ‘could’ve been so much worse’

Parent of assault victim renews calls for increased lighting, security in Bakerview Park

A South Surrey mom is calling for better lighting and increased after-dark police presence in Bakerview Park after an assault Monday night left her son with chipped teeth, a dislocated shoulder and more.

“I’ve asked the police to patrol the park many, many, many times, because of all the stuff that goes on in there,” a distraught Cheryl Wilcox told Peace Arch News Wednesday.

“This could’ve been so much worse.”

Surrey RCMP Sgt. Chad Greig confirmed police received a report of an assault in a park in the 1800-block of 154 Street, but shared no other details, citing the ongoing investigation.

Wilcox said she had just climbed into bed Monday when her 18-year-old called her around 11:30 p.m.

He had just regained consciousness “with his face up against the chainlink fence in the dugout,” she said.

“He had been in the park with a couple of friends and they had left,” Wilcox said. “He had just packed up the rest of his stuff to come home and the guy went to the park and got him… put him in a choke hold.”

Wilcox said the assailant has been identified to police, but that she is frustrated by the Mounties’ response.

“They picked him up (Tuesday), they talked to him and they let him go,” she said. “Why can’t they arrest him on what they’ve got?”

Greig said, in general, that “there are times when an individual is accused of a crime and the police are not able… to support an arrest or charge at the onset of an occurrence.”

Wilcox – who said there are “always” problems in Bakerview Park – is not the first parent to call for increased security measures there.

In April 2015, June Iida, the mother of Dario Bartoli – the 15-year-old who died following an early-morning altercation at Bakerview Park on Dec. 13, 2014 – proposed surveillance cameras at points of entry into South Surrey and parks, with Bakerview “the first and most obvious one.”

READ MORE: Tragic death spurs mother to action

Iida told PAN she’d also like to see parks lit up at night, and a petition launched at that time – but no longer online – garnered more than 1,300 signatures.

No arrests have been made in the Bartoli homicide, and the crime was featured as CrimeStoppers ‘crime of the week’ in June.

City parks officials were not available to comment before PAN’s press deadline Thursday morning, as to what, if any, steps have been taken since then.

Wilcox acknowledged that the city’s parks are closed after dark, but said that doesn’t prevent people from using them.

“I get why they don’t want lights in there,” she said. “But in doing that, they make it unsafe for people who do cut through there. It’s getting everybody on board and on the same page to make neighbourhoods safe for our kids.”

Greig said police conduct “pro-active foot and bike patrols… (to areas) analytically identified…for enhanced enforcement.”

(UPDATE: Parks manager Laurie Cavan told PAN Thursday afternoon that, in light of the latest incident, the park will be reviewed “in the coming weeks” to determine if steps to improve safety are needed.)

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