Published: 2:06 pm, Thu. Dec. 20th, 2018Updated: 2:05 pm
A Florida man was arrested last week after allegedly causing an accident following an apparent extended incident of road rage.
At approximately 7 a.m. Dec. 14, Artesia Police Department officers were dispatched to U.S. 285 North in reference to a reckless driver behind the wheel of a tractor trailer. The reporting party informed dispatch the driver of the truck was tailgating him, honking his horn, and flashing his lights as the two vehicles headed south on 285 toward Artesia.
According to the report, while in route, the victim told dispatch the truck driver had come alongside his vehicle and cut him off, causing him to wreck into the median near the intersection of First Street and Richey Avenue. Dispatch then told police they were receiving multiple calls regarding the wreck from witnesses stating the tractor trailer was driving away from the scene.
At the nearby Allsup’s, officers made contact with the victim, who was driving a white 2000 Mitsubishi four-door. The Mitsubishi driver told police he had first noticed the truck driving erratically near mile marker 96 or 97 on 285, and the truck then began driving too closely behind him, flashing its lights and honking the horn.
The victim stated he had switched lanes in an attempt to prompt the truck to pass but had to switch back due to a vehicle turning out of his lane. The truck again began tailgating him, honking, and flashing its lights. The truck driver then moved alongside the victim’s vehicle, “started pushing his brakes to make a sound,” then slowed down and moved back behind him, honking again.
According to the report, the victim stated the truck once more came alongside him, and the driver began hanging out his window, gesturing for the victim to pull over and fight. The man stated the truck driver then accelerated and moved into his lane, forcing him into the median.
The two vehicles pulled over at Allsup’s, at which time the victim told police the truck driver approached him “like he wanted to fight” and stated, “You dumb son of a bitch, you messed up my clutch.” The victim told the driver he was on the phone with the police, and the truck driver re-entered his truck and drove away.
Officers also spoke to witnesses, who advised them the truck had also been “dogging” them as they left Roswell heading south on 285, driving erratically and “running up the back” of their vehicle as they passed the Hagerman area. Witnesses told police the truck was driving so close to them it would have been impossible to fit half of a small car between them.
The driver stated she had sped up to around 90 mph in an attempt to avoid being struck by the truck. Witnesses also reported the truck was weaving in and out of traffic while speeding before eventually beginning to tailgate the victim’s vehicle.
The witnesses also saw the wreck, telling police the truck driver had deliberately driven over into the victim’s lane in an attempt to hit his car.
Other witnesses corroborated.
Police were subsequently able to locate the tractor trailer in question at the intersection of U.S. 285 and Mill Road, where it was scheduled to pick up a load. The driver was escorted back to the Allsup’s, where he was positively identified by the victim.
Police spoke with the driver, identified as Keith Edward Humphrey of Wauchula, Fla., who stated he had been travelling south on 285 and “fell in with the flow of traffic,” travelling approximately 80 mph. According to the report, Humphrey told police the victim’s car had “jumped in front of him and slammed on the brakes.” He also said he’d heard something hit his truck but was unsure what it was or if the driver had thrown something at him, so he began following the car in order to obtain a license plate number.
Humphrey also told police he had cleared the victim’s vehicle when changing lanes, seen the victim’s car strike the median, and pulled over at the Allsup’s, where he said the victim acted as if he wanted to fight. When asked why he left the scene when the victim informed him he was on the phone with police, Humphrey told officers he had just assumed the victim was calling and was unsure whether he actually was.
Humphrey did not answer to why he himself had not contacted law enforcement.
Due to sufficient evidence and witness statements, Humphrey was placed under arrest on charges of aggravated assault, reckless driving, and leaving the scene of an accident involving damage to a vehicle.
He has been scheduled for a 9 a.m. Jan. 23, 2019, before incoming Judge Jimmy C. Foster in Artesia Magistrate Court.