Road Rager Convicted!

road rager in cuffs

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times / November 2, 2009)

Road rage assault is not the exclusive domain of neanderthals in pick-up trucks. The convict in the photo above was an emergency room doctor. He faces up to 10 years in prison for assaulting two cyclists who he perceived were in his precious way.

I hope this sends a message. Here are some related articles:

Physician accused of deliberately injuring two bicyclists is convicted

Christopher Thompson, 60, is convicted of mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon and other charges in the crash that injured cyclists Ron Peterson and Christian Stoehr on Mandeville Canyon Road in 2008…

Road rage doctor guilty of assaulting cyclists

Los Angeles doctor guilty of slamming brakes on, injuring two…

Doctor convicted in car assault on bicyclists

An emergency room doctor was convicted Monday of assault with a deadly weapon and other charges involving two bicyclists he encountered while driving on a narrow street in Brentwood in July 2008…

LA Road Rage Trial Begins

Velo News had ongoing trial coverage as well as other news stories about this assault. The link above goes to the start of the trial coverage, the sidebar links to other articles. I think this one shows the testimony that sealed the conviction.

Video: Motorist/Cyclist Cooperation

Dan Gutierrez & Brian DeSousa of made this video shortly after the assault.

The final line of the LA Time article says a lot.

“It’s sad for both sides,” Stoehr said. “I lost a lot of my time and my life, and he’s losing a lot of his.”

Now how important were those few seconds he thought he was losing to pass a couple cyclists? How important would they be if they were minutes, even, compared what this man is now going to lose. The criminal conviction and time served won’t be the end of it. He’s probably going to lose his career and endure a civil suit as well.

Perhaps increasing penalties for acts of violence and stupidity caused by impatience would put things in better perspective. Maybe we should make billboards from the photo of him being hauled off to jail:

Christopher Thompson couldn’t wait a second to resume his speed, now he’s waiting years to resume his life.

16 replies
  1. Rantwick
    Rantwick says:

    Hey, thanks for including the video. I think narrow, winding two lane roads with poor sight lines should all just be renamed “Contention Ave” or “Conflict Way” or something. The strategies provided in the video were excellent, I thought.

    Nothing excuses people for losing it or driving agressively, but it comes as no surprise that one of these kinds of roads was the scene of the crime. As you say, maybe some people will get the message about just breathing a little and slowing it down. What do you really lose by that? Nothing.

  2. Wayne Pein
    Wayne Pein says:

    “Now how important were those few seconds he thought he was losing to pass a couple cyclists?”

    Well, since they were going downhill, delay was inconsequential. However, since he already had passed them before he decided to waste his own time by coming to a complete stop (not to mention the time spent scraping bicyclist face off his rear window), he obviously wasn’t all that concerned about delay. It’s was really all about his distorted perceptions of was is right and wrong and how he was in power and could mete out his justice.

    Twice I had the same road rager buzz me in the right lane of a 5-lane road, speed limit 35 mph, on a downhill where I was going 35 mph and then pull in front of me and slam on the brakes to a skidding stop. In both cases I was fully using the right lane and the only way he could have pulled it off was because there was nobody else around. Yes, he could simply have used the left lane. But he didn’t like the uppity bicyclist in the neon yellow jacket using the full lane (even though the NC Driver’s Manual says I can) so thought he’d punish me.

    Another time at the exact same location a woman rager incessantly honked behind me instead of changing lanes. Again nobody was in the left lane. She passed me and proceeded to slow to 15 mph for about the next half mile, purposefully impeding me.


  3. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    It’s unfortunate that such drivers, such inconsiderate alleged human beans can operate deadly weapons on the roadways. I’ve had a similar situation on a six-lane roadway, where the driver performed a pass, then pulled ahead of me and slowed.

    I slowed even more and opened the gap appreciably wider and observed brake lights, so I slowed even more. With three wheels, I can go as slow as necessary, but I’m sure many of the two-wheel riders can also bring things to a crawl.

    Eventually the unknown-aged-juvenile at the wheel tired of the game and continued on.

    I’ve had cashiers apologize for delays with customers ahead of me in line. My favorite response is “No worries, if I was in a hurry, I would not be riding a bicycle.” I may not use that line again, as it appears to validate inconsiderate motor vehicle operators.

    I will occasionally post to the yahoo group for electric-assist cyclists when someone creates a message of inferiority cycling nature. The more frequent sentiment is that the rider does not wish to “be in the way” or “delay” the motorists. I try to explain that being involved in a crash is a much greater delay to a driver and far worse for the cyclist.

    It is necessary to cease responding to other people’s comments about my post, as it usually deteriorates into personal attack.

    More inconsideration, less understanding…

  4. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Wayne hit it on the head. It isn’t about delay. The times I’ve been most nervous were when a motorist decided to come around for a second pass or it looked like the guy was going to back up to run over me. It’s hard to get out of the way quickly when stopped behind a motor vehicle with its backup lights on. How does such behavior relate to any rational delay? It’s about power and control. I just don’t belong on HIS road. Period. And he’s going to make sure I durn well get taught a lesson.

    Delay is merely a convenient excusing of what is a crime of violence. What’s sad is that it is considered a victory when a perpetrator is, for once, called to account. It ought to be the normal expectation.

  5. Keri
    Keri says:

    When Ellen, Lisa and I were doing a brevet using U.S. 1 in Brevard County, we had a guy honk, yell, pull in front and slow down, then drive up the road and pull over to come at us again. He went away when I pulled the cell phone out of my bento box. He wasn’t delayed either on the free-flowing multi-lane highway.

    I agree that the notion of delay is used to justify hate and selfishness. I wonder if the hate causes the perception of delay when no actual delay exists.

  6. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    Wayne wrote:
    “Twice I had the same road rager buzz me…”

    Kevin’s question:
    What did the police do when you called them to lay a complaint?

  7. john
    john says:

    What the public also reads in USAToday:”DriveOn visited the busy… shopping district of Long Beach, Calif., last week to see how the shared lane was working out. It didn’t seem like it was going all that well. Locals and merchants complained that putting bicyclists directly in the path of vehicles is crazy.”

    “An urban designer… wrote Drive On to say in the issue is ‘contentious,’ but says he doesn’t think the 5-foot-wide green stripe down the lane slows traffic and besides, bicycles are legally obligated to share the road with cars.”

    Is the USAToday intentionally creating a climate of disrespect? Notice the banner: “DriveOn, a conversation about our cars and trucks”.

  8. Wayne Pein
    Wayne Pein says:

    Kevin’s question:
    What did the police do when you called them to lay a complaint?

    The first time I was not able to get the tag number, and I didn’t report it. The second time I got it and reported to the police. I went back the next day for follow up and they hadn’t been able to contact him. I stressed that he should be contacted after work hours and the police agreed. But I’m not absolutely sure if they did, though it is likely. He is, at the least, on record.

    We have to keep hammering home that bicycles are vehicles, usually slow but sometimes quite fast. It’s not hard to coexist with stopped busses and delivery vehicles, slow front loaders, amish buggies, and bicycles. Don’t be an inept driver. Expect bicycles and change lanes to pass.


  9. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    One could replace the word ‘buggy’ in the first video with bicyclist/bicycle and be none the worse for wear.

    Did you notice the bumps and dips in that roadway? I’d probably only want to be going 5-8 mph on those roads!

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