Witness: Teen Driver Tried to 'Smoke' Cyclists, Hit 6

Male accused of 'rolling coal' has not been charged
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2021 1:34 PM CDT
Witness: Teen Driver Tried to 'Smoke' Cyclists, Hit 6
Stock image   (Getty/photoschmidt)

Authorities in Texas say a teenager intending to blow exhaust from his diesel pickup truck into the path of cyclists instead slammed into them. Four of six injured cyclists were rushed to hospitals following the Saturday morning incident in Waller County outside Houston, per KTRK. Chase Ferrell tells KRIV that he was 75 miles into a training ride for the Ironman Texas triathlon when a black pickup truck slowed down, then accelerated near him and other cyclists, sending black smoke into their path. This is known as "rolling coal." Ferrell says the driver—variously described as 16 or 17—then tried to do the same thing to a group of eight cyclists leading the pack.

"He was definitely trying to intimidate them and blow smoke on them," Ferrell tells KTRK. "He just got all the way over." The driver "ended up hitting three people before his brakes even started," he adds, per KRIV. "I heard a lot of crunching … tires screeching, people screaming" and "thought someone was dead." Ferrell recalls telling the teen driver, who remained at the scene, "You should go to jail," per the Washington Post. But police "decided not to charge my client and did not even issue him a traffic ticket," the teen's lawyer, Rick DeToto, tells KPRC. DeToto describes his client as "a very new and inexperienced driver," per the Houston Chronicle.

Noting the police investigation continues, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis has vowed to look into the case amid an uproar from the public. Mathis says his office will work with a crash reconstructionist before presenting evidence to a grand jury, with the possibility of an indictment for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, per the Post. He notes intentionally rolling coal at another person "is AT A MINIMUM an assault." (A teen driver in Washington state allegedly struck and killed a runner while trying to scare him.)

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