A peaceful hike along Love City trails turned into the scare of a lifetime for a visiting New Jersey businessman recently.
Matt Sullivan, a manager at American Express Corporation, was visiting friends on St. John last month and was taking full advantage of the numerous hiking trails around the island.
An avid hiker, Sullivan set out on Saturday, March 24, on the Reef Bay trail and hiked over to Lameshur Bay. He continued up the Bordeaux Mountain trail from Lameshur and ended up on the unpaved portion of Bordeaux Mountain Road, U.S. Route 108, around 4:30 p.m.
“I was walking down the dirt road back down to Coral Bay and on the left I passed a very simple house, like a white shack,” said Sullivan. “It came upon me quickly and I saw two young guys on the porch and they looked like kids, maybe between 15 and 18, maybe 20 years old.”
Threatened by Dogs
Sullivan called out a greeting as he walked by the house, but definitely didn’t get the response he was looking for, the visitor explained.
“I called out ‘hello’ to the guys and I got no response at first,” Sullivan said. “Then one of them said, ‘what are you doing up here.’ And I told them I was hiking down to Coral Bay.”
“At this point I had walked past the house and noticed the guys had two big dogs on the porch,” he continued. “I heard them say, ‘get him, get him,’ to the dogs.”
Quickening his pace, Sullivan began climbing the last uphill stretch of the unpaved road, when he heard the two men walk off the porch and down the steps, he explained.
Shotgun Cocked and Pointed
“When I hit the summit of the hill, I heard them behind me saying, ‘whitey, get out of here,’” said Sullivan. “I didn’t look back, but I heard them calling after me, ‘whitey, get out — whitey, get out.’ Then I heard the cocking of a shotgun.”
“I turned around and saw they had the shotgun cocked and pointed at me,” Sullivan continued. “I said, ‘come on man, I’m just hiking,’ and I started running down the hill.”
While high-tailing it down Bordeaux Mountain Road, Sullivan’s backpack opened and its contents started spilling out, he explained.
“I didn’t want my stuff to all fall out, so I turned around to pick up my things and I saw one of the guys still had the shotgun pointed at me,” Sullivan said. “I thought, ‘where do I run.’ I started running along the side of the road because there was a bit of brush there I thought might give me some coverage.”
After a small bend, Bordeaux Mountain Road stretched out in a straight-away, Sullivan added.
Scared and Exhausted
“I turned the bend and felt that I was O.K., but the next bend was a good 50 yards ahead or so,” he said. “If they gave chase I couldn’t have out-run them — I ran and ran and ran. I tried to stay low to the side of the road so I would be hard to see.”
“I was just scared sh**less,” Sullivan continued. “I was exhausted from the hike and my legs were trembling. I had a feeling of hopelessness, like no one was going to help me.”
Sullivan’s fear intensified with each sound of a nearby vehicle, he added.
“I kept thinking to myself, if there was a car, it could have been them and I didn’t know what to do,” Sullivan said.
After returning safely to his friend’s house, Sullivan reported the incident to the V.I. Police Department at the Coral Bay Substation.
No Action by VIPD
“The officer seemed to kind of know who the kids were,” said the businessman. “They had a satellite photo and I pointed out the house. While the officer, Mathews, said he knew where the house was he said it was difficult to traverse the road.”
The seriousness of the crime was readily dismissed by the VIPD, according to Sullivan.
“If something like this happened in New Jersey or New York — someone pointing a gun at you and calling you whitey — it would be a federal hate crime,” he said. “I just think it’s crazy that these guys can live there and get away with this stuff.”
Although the incident was atrocious, he will return to St. John again in the future, Sullivan explained.
“Except next time, I’ll be a hell of a lot more cautious,” he said.
VIPD spokesperson Shawna Richards was out of the territory last week and was unable to answer St. John Tradewinds phone calls requesting comment.