Teen, 16, released after mowing down team of cyclists

Teen, 16, released after mowing down team of cyclists
‘You did something really freaking stupid,’ witness tells driver

A 16-year-old teenager who ran over six cyclists outside Houston, Texas as he tried to terrorise them with his truck’s exhaust fumes was set free to drive home after the incident.

The driver appeared to have tried to “roll coal” – using a modified diesel engine to allow more fuel to enter the engine to send out large black or grey exhaust fumes – on eight cyclists preparing for the Ironman Triathlon, according to Chase Ferrell, who was cycling behind the group when the episode occurred.

Mr Ferrell was covered in thick, black smoke by the driver on Old Highway 290 on Saturday. Not long after, the teenager tried to do the same to the group ahead, CHRON reported.

But instead, he crashed into six of the eight cyclists in the group, according to Mr Ferrell and police. He pulled over and got out of the vehicle.

“There was no reason for this to happen,” Mr Ferrell told Fox 26. “It wasn’t like he was on his phone. [He] definitely meant to try and scare these people [or] intimidate them in some way. [Maybe he then] made a mistake and ran them over.”

The teen asked “Do you think I’m going to jail?” according to the witness.

“Yeah, you did something really freaking stupid,” Mr Ferrell told the driver, he said. “You should go to jail.”

The incident quickly garnered attention, prompting the District Attorney of Waller County to write a lengthy post on Facebook explaining the intricacies of the local justice system.

Without identifying the suspect, the DA’s Facebook account wrote on 26 September that they are “aware of the identity of the juvenile and can guarantee that from the perspective of this office he will not receive favorable or unfavorable treatment based upon who his family may or may not be”.

“I would ask that those that feel there is a need to call this office and tie up our phone lines to please stop. It isn’t helpful and the individuals answering the phones have done nothing to deserve to be verbally mistreated as they have no connection to the Waller Police Department or what happened out on the street,” they added.

“If you have any doubts about our commitment to protecting bicycle riders I suggest you scroll up and read about our most recent convictions resulting in life in prison without parole for Victor Tome who killed two bicyclists in our county by running over them with his car,” the DA wrote. “I am also asking our local citizens to make an extra effort to stop and talk to bicyclists that are riding/stopping through our community over the next few months and to get to know them.”

Four of the six cyclists that the driver slammed into were taken to hospital, with two being airlifted because their injuries were severe.

Mr Ferrell said the teen’s parents quickly appeared at the scene. The driver was questioned by police but was later released without being charged.

Many criticised the decision to release the teen.

“Imagine a 16-year-old boy aimed a gun at you, to intimidate you and pulled the trigger, this is what happened, except it was a truck,” one Twitter user wrote.

“The kid needs to go on record and explain himself. As do the police who let him drive home. And then, when his family is sued, he needs to watch his truck be taken away and melted down into bicycle frames to replace the ones he ruined,” Allyn West added.

Authorities have not released any information on whether the driver will be charged with any crimes.

“That this driver has yet to face any consequences certainly has many wondering if it’s open season on cyclists in Waller County,” the executive director of Bike Houston, Joe Cutrufo, told CHRON.

“The irony here is this prevailing attitude in Waller County that bicyclists from Houston are a menace,” he said. “That’s a tough position to defend when you see a 16-year-old running them down with a truck.”