Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Driver pulls gun in road rage incident

Express Staff Writer

Local police are searching for the male driver of a gray Toyota van with Texas license plates who allegedly pulled a gun during a dispute over his driving.

Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling said the dispute occurred after the van tried to pass two people traveling on motorcycles while headed west on U.S. Highway 20/93 about 25 miles east of Carey. He said that according to a report from one of the motorcyclists, the van's driver began to pass but pulled back into his lane to avoid hitting an oncoming vehicle. Femling said the van narrowly missed hitting the motorcycles when he did so.

He said the motorcyclists stopped to talk to the van driver when they saw it parked by the side of the road shortly after. He said the driver then pulled a gun out and pointed it at them.

Femling said one of the motorcyclists was a U.S. marshal and pulled out his badge when he saw the gun. The van driver then fled.

The motorcyclist contacted the Blaine County Sheriff's Office, which dispatched five cars to try to surround the area the van was traveling in. They were assisted by a vehicle from the Bellevue Marshal's Office. However, they were unable to find the van.

Femling said the incident was one of two during the past week that could have resulted in fatal head-on collisions.

On Friday, Aug. 5, Juana Mancera, a Shoshone resident, escaped serious injury after her 1984 Oldsmobile sedan swerved off state Highway 75 while she was trying to pass another vehicle while traveling south about four miles south of Timmerman Hill. Femling said the driver of the other vehicle was apparently annoyed by the attempt and began to speed up. Mancera continued the passing attempt until she saw a third vehicle approaching in the oncoming lane. She tried to pull back into her lane, but began to swerve and then went off the opposite side of the highway.

Femling said the driver of the vehicle she was trying to pass did not stop.

The two incidents came about two weeks after two fatal head-on collisions near Carey that killed a total of four people.

"This kind of stuff has to stop or we're going to keep going out to these tragic accidents," Femling said. "We need to say, 'Come on, people, let's mellow out. Let's start being courteous.'"

Femling said anyone who witnesses an act of reckless driving and can later visually identify the driver can sign a citation, allowing police to arrest the person.

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