NC cyclist punched in face by driver in road rage fight
Road rage victims rarely catch video proof of their attack, but one Asheville biker got somewhat lucky last week, when a passing motorist with a camera drove up at just the right moment.
The one-minute video, posted Tuesday on YouTube, shows the unnamed cyclist waiting for a light to change when the driver in front of him gets out and punches him in the face. The blow nearly knocks the cyclist to the ground, and he suffers a bloody nose and busted lip.
It happened Sept. 27 at the intersection of Sand Hill and Sardis roads in Asheville. The video was shot from the cab of a commercial vehicle that happened to approach the scene during the punching, said officials.
The Asheville Citizen Times reported that the driver, Claude Donald Watson, 74, was charged two days later with simple assault and reckless driving to endanger. Watson lives in the Buncombe County town of Chandler.
The cyclist’s attorney, Ann Groninger, said her client wishes to remain anonymous for the time being because of safety concerns.
“It’s very fortunate that this video exists,” she told the Observer. “I have heard of incidents where similar things happened and there is no video proof and no witnesses.”
As for why the assault occurred, witnesses said the motorist became angry while trying to pass the bicyclist in a construction zone. The motorist allegedly attempted to run the cyclist off the road just before the assault was recorded, Groninger said.
The only words spoken were said after the punches were thrown, when the driver said, “Get off the (expletive) road,” reported witnesses.
Two people stopped to help the biker, including a woman who got out and shook her fist at the suspect, prompting him to drive off.
Watson told the Observer that the incident erupted when the bicyclist “got in the middle of the road” and refused to let anyone pass.
“I wasn’t trying to run him down. If I was going to do that, I’d have done it a mile back,” Watson said. “And when I did get by him, he was a cursing and flipped me the bird. You know what that is? I don’t like nobody a cursing me and stuff. I don’t know what was wrong with him.”
Watson said he doesn’t believe he hurt the cyclist.
Groninger said the incident put more than just the bicyclist in danger. Other drivers and even the road construction crew could have been hurt, she said.
“One important thing to note is that there were other people who came to the aid of the guy on the bike,” said Groninger. “This is not a bicyclist versus car incident. This is a good citizen versus bad actor. You’ve got a good person on a bike, doing what he has every right to do, and a bad actor who comes along and punches him in the face.”