Coal-Rolling Teen That Hit Cyclists Charged With Six Felonies
The 16-year-old was not arrested after the incident, but has now surrendered to authorities.
On September 25, a group of cyclists riding near Waller, Texas, were hit by a Ford Super Duty driven by a 16-year old youth. Reports from witnesses indicated the driver had been "rolling coal" on the group immediately prior to striking six cyclists, four of whom were hospitalized due to injuries sustained. Now, news out of Texas is that the teen driver is finally in custody according to the District Attorney of Waller County, over a month after the incident occurred.
Today, the district attorney filed six felony charges of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon against the juvenile driver, corresponding to each of the six cyclists that was injured. The 16-year old voluntarily surrendered to authorities, and was taken into custody by the juvenile justice department.
The district attorney specifically thanked the Waller County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety for their help on the case. This comes after the district attorney's office publicly called out the Waller Police Department, stating that "the case was not handled appropriately by the investigating agency. PERIOD." in a Facebook post on November 8. Concerns were raised that the Waller Police Department did not treat the area as a crime scene, did not collect evidence, and neglected to contact the district attorney's office for advice on the matter.
Cyclist Chase Ferrell, who saw the events unfold, told Fox 26 at the time that the crash happened "because [the driver] was accelerating to blow more diesel fuel on these cyclists," adding that the driver "ended up hitting 3 people before his brakes even started." Ferrell noted that the teen remained at the scene after hitting the cyclists, and spoke to police. However, the driver was not arrested in the wake of the crash. "I don't understand, if it was me who had struck someone else, I would be in jail," noted Ferrell.
Just days later, on September 28, the District Attorney of Waller County posted a statement on Facebook regarding the incident. The statement noted that the district attorney's office had "no authority over the decisions made by the City of Waller Police Department regarding who to arrest or not to arrest."
Furthermore, it stated that "We are also aware of the identity of the juvenile and can guarantee that from the perspective of this office he will receive no favorable or unfavorable treatment based upon who his family may or may not be." The district attorney's office later confirmed that the driver was "connected" to Waller city officials, though stated it had yet to find evidence of city officials directly influencing officers on the scene.
The Waller Police Department, however, was eager to state that it was handling the case fairly. Local Chief of Police Bill Llewellyn defended the department's conduct in a post on October 15, in response to widespread outrage at the handling of the incident. Criticisms ranged from the fact that the driver was not given a sobriety test and was not taken into custody, as well as that that police did not take statements from cyclists on the scene. Llewellyn noted the department had mishandled the initial investigation, but asserted he had " not received any influence from any member of city administration regarding this incident."
With charges filed and the driver now in custody, the hope from the district attorney is that the community will see that justice is being done. The office has form for gaining convictions in similar matters, with a Texas man sentenced to life in prison for killing two cyclists with his vehicle in 2017. Regardless, with the juvenile driver's connections, and the seemingly lenient treatment received thus far, it's a certainty that the case will be watched with a keen eye across Waller County and beyond.
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