Cops: Enraged motorist swerves into bicyclists, injures one

Published August 7, 2008 11:50 am
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A 41-year-old man who allegedly used his truck to swerve into groups of bikers on Mirror Lake Highway over the weekend has been charged with third-degree felony aggravated assault and a pair of misdemeanors.

Alexander Jason Barto allegedly tried to run Shane Dunleavy off the road and violently swerved into the biker as he was training with a team of cyclists near Kamas on Saturday.

Dunleavy, 44, said the truck bumped him, and he narrowly escaped being run over.

Barto's misdemeanor charges stem from failing to register his truck and improperly passing a vehicle.

The defendant is scheduled to appear before Judge Bruce Lubeck in Summit County's 3rd District Court on Monday morning.

Dunleavy, who detailed the collision in an e-mail statement to friends, wrote that he was riding next to another cyclist, tight against the right side of the highway, when Barto pulled up, rolled his window down and yelled at the bikers to get off the road.

"I responded, not sure exactly what I said, but it further enraged him, and he swerved into me," Dunleavy wrote. "His door bumped my knee, and his mirror was right in front of me, so I pushed down and away from it, and it broke off."

At that point, Dunleavy said the driver became "absolutely psychotic" and "gunned his motor."

"He steered into me, hit me with the front wheel and fender, forcing me off the road into the dirt," Dunleavy wrote. "He continued to push me off the road, and I started to go down as my bike began to go under the wheel."

Dunleavy said he only just avoided being run over. He said he was dragged for a moment before he managed to get unclipped from the pedals, push off the bumper and curl up as the bike went under the truck wheel.

When Barto stopped and got out of the truck, one of Dunleavy's fellow riders grabbed the man by the hair and hit him a couple times. Other motorists who witnessed the event called police.

As Barto tried to get back into his truck, Dunleavy and his friend grabbed the man and threw him against the truck to prevent him from leaving.

A second group of cyclists stopped and told police that the truck had almost hit them as well.

Dunleavy escaped with only minor injuries - road rash, sprains and bruises - but his bike was destroyed. He said he counted 20 pieces.

Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Cameron Roden said the incident "could have been real severe." A vehicle swerving around a group of cyclists could result in multiple impacts, he said, or force bikers into the road in effort to dodge the car.

There were numerous bikes on the Mirror Lake byway Saturday taking part in the 2008 Felt Tour de Park City race. The bikers involved in the incident were not in the race.

Troopers arrested Barto, who posted bail and was released from jail Saturday.

sgehrke@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">sgehrke@sltrib.com



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