EVERGREEN, Colo. (CBS4) – A Jefferson County woman could face jail time after she and her adult son were charged in a road rage incident caught on camera by the alleged victim, a bicycle rider.“I was angry,” explains Paul Gallas, the Denver area cyclist.
He was riding west on Highway 74 from Morrison to Evergreen last winter claiming to be as far to the right as possible.
Gallas was operating two video cameras mounted on his bike. One camera recorded a forward view. The second camera recorded a rear view.
What you see first is several passing cars giving Gallas a wide clearance. Then a gray car appears and brushes close to the cyclist.
“It was within a foot or so,” claims Gallas.
Words are shouted at the cyclist by a front seat passenger who’s seen leaning out the window.
CBS4 tracked down the man who freely admits to being the passenger in the gray car.
“Just messing around, having fun,” says Erick Witaschek.
Witaschek and his mother Cheryl were charged by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office following the incident.
Gallas shared his video with law enforcement.
After reviewing the pictures, he realized he’d recorded a readable license plate.
Erick, the adult son, faces a charge of disorderly conduct. But his mother has been charged with a more serious charge of reckless driving.
If convicted she could face a maximum penalty of $300 fine and or 90 days in jail, plus 8 points on her Colorado driver’s license, according to the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.
“I know I’m going to request a jury trial because I never intended putting any fear in this man,” says Cheryl Witaschek.Gallas tells a different story. He claims his video documents an unprovoked road rage incident directed at him.
“The driver decided to squeeze me as close as possible and intimidate me with her vehicle, while the passenger shouted some obscenity at me.”
CBS4 asked Erick about the apparent profanity he appears to be shouting at the cyclist in the video.
“I haven’t seen the video, I don’t remember exactly what I said,” he responds.
If you listen closely to the video you can hear the cyclist shout out “Gotcha on camera!” right after the incident.
So was Gallas rolling video in a deliberate attempt to catch somebody being a jerk?
“Absolutely not,” he tells CBS4.
Instead, he says he was simply making a training video which could be played back on a monitor for someone riding a stationary bike.
But this recorded confrontation shows footage collected for one purpose can quickly become incriminating evidence.“Letting people know they may be caught on video might just change the way people behave on the road,” says Gallas.
The car driver insists she did nothing wrong.
“Do I have to get a car cam to defend myself?” she asks.
But convincing the jury — after they’ve been shown the video — may be an uphill battle.
David Newcomer, Executive Director of Team Evergreen Bicycle Club, talks more about the friction between cyclists and vehicle drivers on Colorado roads in an interview with Paul Day below.