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Driver runs down caroling cyclists downtown – UPDATED

Scroll down for updates, including an interview with the driver.

A driver struck three riders and drove several blocks up Pike with one of them on his car hood Thursday evening, according to reports from the .83 forum and CHS. The riders, some of whom were dressed in festive attire, were out to sing Christmas carols together around the city when the incident happened around 8 p.m. Luckily, no one was serious injured, though some of the bikes did not fare as well. The driver sped from the scene, but later went to the East Precinct to speak with police.

From what I have been able to piece together from various accounts of what happened, the group had just started their ride from Westlake Center and were riding up Pike in the right lane. At least one member of the group was riding in the lane to the left of the group as a driver pulled up behind them and started showing signs of being aggressive. Some members of the group were yelling at the rider in the left lane to join the rest of the group but either he ignored them or was in the process of moving over when the driver allegedly tried driving into the group of singing riders.

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As the group and the driver approached a red light, the driver allegedly ran over one person’s wheel, bending it like a taco. The driver and riders then had a verbal altercation, and the driver said, “You guys are crazy,” according to an account on the .83 forum. The diver then ran over the foot of one of the riders. The rider, angry at having his foot run over, kicked the driver’s car door. At some point, riders opened the passenger door started yelling at the driver.

Meanwhile, another rider stopped in from of the driver’s vehicle with his bike in front of him and motioned for the driver to pull over. Instead, the driver sped forward towards him. He tried to throw his bike out of the way and ended up on the hood of the car. The bike did not make it all the way out of the way, and the vehicle ran over the seat, crushing it.

The vehicle then sped up Pike at speeds as high as 30 mph, swerving around to shake the rider off the hood, according to witnesses. Somehow, the rider held on until they reached a red light, and he was able to get off safely. The driver then sped away.

Capitol Hill Seattle reports that the driver of the 1993 Thunderbird pulled up to SPD’s East Precinct a few minutes later to give his side of the story. We will update when/if we find out what that side of the story might be.

UPDATE: CHS has confirmed that there have been no arrests, and police are investigating the incident as an automobile “accident.” From CHS:

Seattle Police this morning confirm that the driver in the incident was not arrested and that the situation is currently being investigated as an automobile accident. Nobody else was taken into custody related to the Thursday night fracas. We reported that the driver had continued to the East Precinct headquarters at 12th and Pine after the incident. The car in the collision is registered to an east Capitol Hill address.

UPDATE #2: I spoke with the driver of the incident — Alexander Conley III, longtime owner of Conley Hat Manufacturing in Madrona.

Conley said he was confused by the group and did not understand why they got so angry with him.

“All I was trying to do was come home,” said Conley. “They had the whole street blocked, and they wanted to keep it blocked. When I tried to go to the left to go around them, they swarmed towards me.” He said he honked at them so the group would clear space for him to get through, but then they stopped in front of him and one of their fenders touched his bumper.

Then “they were threatening, they were jumping on my car,” he said. He said he eventually got through with one person still hanging onto the hood. “Someone was on the hood while I was going up pike … I didn’t want him to fall off and hurt himself, I just wanted him to get off.” He said the person on the hood got off around Boren.

“I was just going to take him up to the police station with me.” The station is at Pine and 12th. Conley drove straight to the station to report the incident.

Conley said he remains confused about why the incident even happened. “I did nothing to these guys to provoke them,” he said. “What was going on? Why were they doing that? Why were they trying to take the whole street?” He said he thought they were a negative group of cyclists out to prove something to motorists.

“Why were they so angry with me? I didn’t do anything to them,” he said.

Conley has been making hats in Madrona for about 25 years, and making hats for most his 75 years. Here’s a video about his hat making from YouTube:

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15 responses to “Driver runs down caroling cyclists downtown – UPDATED”

  1. I find the holiday season to be an especially dangerous time to ride. People seem to be even more preoccupied than usual and, often, have a good deal of aggression they would like to take out on somebody. I remind myself of this when I head out for a ride and allow extra time so I don’t have to take any unnecessary risks. I am, afterall, riding for my own enjoyment as well as a means of transport. So Ride Happy and stay alert!

  2. Paul Johnson

    If Washington State doesn’t have the death penalty, it needs to get it, and adopt Texas’s three-witness rule: If you do something worthy of the death penalty, and you’re convicted of it, and three or more credible witnesses testified against you in trial, you don’t get an appeal, you go directly to the chair. The driver that ran these people down is exactly the kind of white trash the death penalty is meant to clean up.

    1. Greg Ruller

      …The driver was black?

  3. Kevin

    Accurate description!

    I’m not sure about the passenger door being opened, but passenger window was down at 6th & Pike when he drove into the middle of the group and they wished him a Merry Christmas. If he hadn’t of menanced with his vehicle in such a way to split the group up maybe they all could have been in the right lane?

    Here’s my best ASCII art drawing. Dots are cyclists, C is car, _ is just a spacer.


  4. biliruben

    They don’t use mercury to make hats anymore, do they?

  5. Kevin

    “He said he honked at them so the group would clear space for him to get through, but then they stopped in front of him and one of their fenders touched his bumper.”

    Hurr hurr.

    #1 There was no fender on the rear wheel he crushed.
    #2 “Pie, I’m going to move my mouth like this *chomp chomp chomp* and if you get eaten it’s your own fault.”

    You can just go around ramming shit, try to flee, run over the foot of a photographer, and then be surprised when people get angry about it.

  6. Leif

    Seriously, if a motorist purposely rams another motorist out of aggression, with multiple witness accounts to confirm, they would be arrested, regardless of what the other motorist may or may not have done to provoke the situation. Apparently if you are running down cyclists you get a free pass to do whatever you want and then call it an accident.

    I’m sick of the “confused” and “didn’t see” argument. If minority road users confound you or you have a physical inability to see anything on the road smaller than a Hummer than you shouldn’t be driving and your license should be revoked.

  7. Brad Hawkins

    He was just trying to get home and somebody was in front of him? Imagine! Of course he was right to ram into whomever might be in front and thus in the way. Of course it’s just an “accident”. Why would the police ever imagine differently? After all, the guy makes hats.

  8. Julian

    Based on the Mad Hatter vs TJ Hooker episode and the other CM “Late for a Dinner Reservation” event in ’08, it seems that when drivers get sociopathic about being delayed they claim not to realize the reason the folks on bikes are getting angrier is that the motorist is *running them over*. And so the folks on bikes seem crazier and scarier, and the motorist gets more aggressive and fight/flighty, and bad stuff happens.

    Followed by equally sociopathic SLOG commenters who don’t understand that getting run over for the “crime” of being a drunken-ass-on-a-bike-in-your-way (lovable or not) isn’t exactly a proportionate response. As if it would be fair to run over their fingers for being such an assweepay keyboard commando.

    Since it was a ’93 Tbird, the “new car smell made me do it” excuse favored by somnolent i-bankers seems unavailable.

    But hard not to smell the bullshit on a guy that says that on the one hand, he just wanted the guy who magically appeared on the hood of his car to get off (hard to to do when the driver is running red lights at 30mph), and a few breaths later says he was driving the guy to the police station.

  9. Ted

    It’s happened to all of us at one time or another.

    You’re driving home. Just trying to get home, frankly.

    Next thing you know, due to general confusion regarding bicyclists riding on a roadway with you, someone has a death drip on your windshield wipers and is staring at you directly through your own windshield. What do do? Speed up? Slow down? Clarity: to the local precinct, where a friendly policeman shall sort the matter out. That hit-and-run victim will come with you whether they want to or not!

    Now, back to hat-crafting…

  10. Rogelio

    As I’m looking at Conley, through his windshield, the man starts to drive off and I feel him really gun it as the engine moves beneath me and the car body rocks back. I’m have to hold onto the lip of the hood, between the windshield and the hood as the man careens up Pike with all my strength to not get tossed. Had he wanted me to just get off and not fall off and hurt myself then he would have heeded my occasional suggestions to pull over instead of trying to shake me off his hood while travelling at an unsafe speed.

    I managed to let go with one hand and signal that he should pull off to the side a couple times. When the man on your hood signals for you to pull over: pull over.

    Seriously? All the way to the Police station?
    A. Not the way he was driving.
    B. What?

    Why were people angry with you?
    Because you rear-ended someone while driving aggressively and then drove through a crowd of cyclists to try to leave.

    And just to clarify, I didn’t jump on the hood, it was more of a shin-meets-bumper-of-moving-vehicle maneuver.

  11. Jim

    I’m sure your ‘occasional suggestions’ were very calm.. I think this guy did the right thing.

  12. Rogelio

    I was actually very outwardly calm, my mind was the one racing and flailing about everywhere; I was preoccupied with evaluating and sorting out a way to extricate myself from the situation.

    Think of that hand gesture that airline hosts use to point to the exits: two extended fingers, arm at forty five degrees, come down to zero degrees, do this twice. I’m one of those guys that makes lots of arm gestures while talking so this is how I tried to express “pull over.”

    I mean, I could have yelled, but what’s that going to accomplish? Maybe he confused my arm as an extra windshield wiper. Anyway, he didn’t pull over.

  13. MissB

    Hmmmm…I thought if a group wanted to take over a part, or all of a street, they have to have a parade license.
    This sounds like a guy, on his way home, who had the audacity to honk and then he was desended on and totally confused by what was happening, and reacted accordingly.

    I recall one time in DT seattle, I was TRYING to cross a street – with the walk light when I was stopped by a group of about 25 – 30 bicyclists that are apparently “allowed” to do so, to the detriment of folks trying to A: cross the street, and B: drive on the portion of road the bikes have taken over. Meanwhile, I missed a bus as the bicyclists seemed to take thier time while holding up traffic.

    Geesh, if ya wanna carole, then leave your bikes home and freakin WALK through the neighborhood!

    As a life long pedestrian, I have been nearly hit by just as many bikes as I have cars – ALL of which were breaking the law at the time, including a bicyclist who RAN the light while the cross walk was full of people who had to jump out of his way as he did so.

    Bikes are SUPPOSED to follow the same laws as cars, STOP mean’s STOP, red, means STOP, yield means yield to all, be it other bikes, pedestrians, cars, truck or busses!!!!!

  14. Julian

    Jim and MissB … examples A and B of people confused about what a proportional, appropriate, or non-psychotic response to being aggravated by tomfoolery in the street. You can think .83 are drunken, irritating scofflaws if you like, and hope they get a citation, or honk, or vocally express your displeasure, or write nasty comments on bike blogs. One of them ended up in the hospital with hypothermia and alcohol poisoning, suggesting that there are some natural consequences involved. Those would be proportional responses.

    Trying to run them over and then driving like a madman with someone on the hood of your car? Really? That’s “reacting accordingly”? “The right thing”? If actually you believe that, you are a sociopath.

    And let me know when the hordes of sports fans that clog our streets every time there’s a game at a stadium get their parade license.

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