Jeep illegal joyride damages trails, potentially puts lives at risk

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Walking trails at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education that were once flowering are now gone and buried in mud.

Staff at the center says the driver of Jeep that was seen illegally off-roading not once but twice is to blame.

"I was really taken back by the amount of damage that was done," said Steve Goin, Director of Land and Facilities at the Center.

Photos of the Jeep taken by staff after reportedly being abandoned by the driver after it got stuck show it covered in mud.

"They really knew that they were in the wrong place," said Goin who says signage clearly telling visitors that the trails are walking only was run over.

Center officials say the first joyride occurred back on March 29, the second on April 7th. The Jeep was gone on April 8, presumably taken by the driver.

Staff says they have reported the driver to police and that the case is under investigation.

However, they are still looking for witnesses to come forward.

"You can see the where the tire went up on the bank a little bit over here," explained Goin who gave Action News a tour of some of the damage.

He says the driver killed at least one box turtle and some toads. Goin says based on accounts of how erratic the driving was, it's amazing he or she didn't hurt themselves or people that were on the trails.

"A place that doesn't even allow bike traffic is not a responsible place to take an off-road vehicle," Goin said.

Center staff say the damage may take decades to repair, and stress that the environmental impacts are much larger than what you may see with the naked eye.

"We protect an area like this we're thinking of the whole city, the whole region," said Goin.

Those interested in helping repair the damage can volunteer on the third Saturday of every month. This month's work will be held on May 18 at 10 a.m.

If you witnesses the incident, or have additional information please contact the police at (215) 686-3353 or steve@schuykillcenter.org or (215) 853-6782
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