JC was about 150 yards away from the finish line of the 2017 Bicycling Magazine Fall Classic in Berks County, Pa, when he heard a car horn blaring in his ear. He turned his head and saw an older man in a pickup truck. “He started hearing honking and screaming and got close,” says JC today. “Then, before I knew it, the front right fender brushed me, the rear view mirror hit me and I fell to the ground.”
That man, says JC, “was outraged that people were on the road.” But now there was a bigger problem — for the driver. There was a huge group of cyclists on the road, ready to fight back against a man who used his car as a potentially deadly weapon. JC would suffer injuries from the vehicle attack, and despite doing everything right from then on out, his situation was about to get a lot worse.
The Bicycling Magazine Fall Classic had always been on JC’s bucket list. A resident of Wilmington, Delaware, he spent the year training in his hometown and nearby state parks, and had signed up for the 90-mile ride a year in advance with his buddies. JC had been an avid cyclist for years, from commuting by bicycle in WIlmington to biking up mountains in South America, always without incident.
It wasn’t until the Fall Classic that JC found himself on the receiving end of this sort of vehicular carnage. Luckily, he was in a large group with other cyclists and officials from the race, who, while angry, kept their cool and kept the driver at the scene of the crime. A Pennsylvania state trooper arrived, but did not quell the situation.
“The trooper came and told me to sit down and stay away, and talked to the driver,” says JC. “Five minutes later, he just let the guy go … That’s when we got really upset. My friend and some other people were asking, ‘why did you let him go?’”
According to JC and witnesses, the police officer said it was his, and his own decision to decide whether the driver deserved a ticket or not. “He said just go on your way and he didn’t ask if I was OK, and didn’t ask what happened. We were pretty upset at him. He basically said, ‘That guy was a war veteran and I’m not going to do anything right now.’”
Meanwhile, JC’s bicycle was wrecked. His bibs were ripped apart, his ribs ached and he had a fractured knee cap. Still, he managed to finish the ride. He called Bicycle Crash Lawyer Stuart Leon when he got home, then called the Pennsylvania state police, and managed to explain to the officer’s superior what had happened.
He finally got a call from the officer who was on the road that day. Expecting an apology and an explanation, he got neither. Instead, he was told the driver was getting a ticket, “but so are you,” the officer said, claiming JC had been obstructing the road, and that was an offense.
But JC never got a ticket in the mail, and never got a summons to go to court in Berks County. He got something much worse.
On December 30, 2017 [3 months post crash date] JC got a phone message from the trooper who’d been on the scene. The trooper told him that there is an arrest warrant out for his arrest because he did not respond to the ticket he was issued for riding more than 2 abreast under Section 3505 of the Penna Motor vehicle code.
“That’s when JC called me again,” says Stuart Leon, “and told me there was a warrant out for his arrest.”
Although he’d never received a ticket in the mail, the police claimed one had been sent and, when it wasn’t paid and he did not show up for court in Pennsylvania, a warrant for his arrest was issued.
Worse yet, because he hadn’t showed up to testify against the driver in the road rage incident (for which he never received a notice), that ticket had been thrown out. The driver, who could have killed someone, was free to go. “The driver’s hearing came and went like a tree falling in the woods with no one there to witness it,” says Leon. “Since neither JC nor any of the witness/riders/friends knew of the driver’s hearing, none of them testified and the driver’s charges were tossed by the judge without any of us ever even knowing it was scheduled nor had occurred.”
The next day, New Year’s Eve, Leon called the court, managed to get the bench warrant lifted, and got a new hearing date scheduled to fight the charges. Leon would also file a civil suit against the driver over the crash, and a complaint against the state trooper.
Court was held outside Reading, in front of a local judge/magistrate. Although JC was from Wilmington Delaware, the State Trooper prosecuted the case with a vengeance and the Road Rage Driver was a local, the Judge saw the truth and threw out the charges against JC.
“We prosecuted the money damages claim against the driver’s insurance company,” says Leon. “The driver showed up in Court, was not capable of understanding what was going on or what had happened. He was probably not competent to be driving in the first place. We won in court that day. The driver’s insurance company accepted full responsibility and paid JC for his wrecked $9000 bike, wheel set and racing kit, his medical bills, for his fractured knee, and for what he went through: getting assaulted and persecuted… we won JUSTICE, ACCEPTANCE of RESPONSIBILITY, MONEY & VENGEANCE JC, an innocent and injured bicycle rider.”