In July 2013, Seattle Bike Blog published a troubling email we received from dedicated West Seattle Greenways leader Jake Vanderplas, who was the victim of an intentional assault when a road raging person yelled at him from her car, then swerved and hit him in the bike lane on SW Andover Street in North Delridge.
Erika Soerensen, then 37, has been found guilty of second degree assault in King County Superior Court, West Seattle Blog reports. That is a serious criminal charge that acknowledges that Soerensen used her car as a weapon.
Several witnesses watched Soerensen rage for blocks at Vanderplas on the then-brand-new 26th Ave SW neighborhood greenway, which ironically Vanderplas helped advocate for through his work with West Seattle Greenways. She passed him closely at high speed and yelled at him through her window before she finally assaulted him physically, they told police.
Luckily, Vanderplas was not seriously injured, though his left hand was hurt. Soerensen fled the scene, but was found six days later.
It’s good to see our justice system acknowledge that, whatever else a car can be, it can be a deadly weapon, and appropriately charging and convicting someone using one with that intent. No traffic-specific charges needed, simply assault, which would have applied even if driving was totally unregulated.
Maybe soon the justice system will be ready to acknowledge that a car can be a deadly tool, and appropriately handle cases of negligence and recklessness.