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Suspect cited in road rage incident that left 3 cyclists injured

SANTA FE – The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating a road rage incident southeast of Santa Fe last week that put one bicyclist in the hospital with serious injuries and left two others with broken or cracked bones.

Juan Rios, spokesman for the sheriff’s office, confirmed Tuesday that Jacob Brown, 39, of Moriarty, who admitted he stopped and backed his car toward a group of riders from Santa Fe Seniors on Bikes (SOBs) on N.M 41 near Galisteo on Thursday, was cited for stopping in the roadway. No record of the citation has been filed in court.

Rios said Sheriff Robert Garcia and Undersheriff Ron Madrid reviewed the case reports Tuesday and decided that the sheriff’s office “will keep the case open and it will remain under investigation.” Rios said investigators will meet with the District Attorney’s Office to determine any charges to pursue.

Members of the SOBs say Brown passed the group of about 15 riders at high speed while honking his horn, then braked and backed into the bicyclists. Douglas Harrel, 63, was the most seriously hurt, with broken ribs, a cracked pelvis and a punctured lung, other riders said. He remains at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center.

Another rider suffered fractures in both wrists and a third had cracked ribs and a concussion, according to the SOBs.

Catherine Veilleux, who was on the Thursday bike ride, was not impressed by the response of the Sheriff’s Office at the accident scene. “I just felt like the law enforcement reaction was an under-reaction,” she said.

The driver “used his car as an assault weapon,” she added.

The bike rider with the wrist injuries said the car backed up fast into cyclists who had been traveling in single file in the southbound lane. As the injured riders were lying on the road, the driver “screamed at the top of his lungs. ‘Get the (expletive) off the road. You don’t belong here,’ ” the rider said. “… It was the most insane thing I’ve ever seen.” The man said the SOBs are safety-conscious and aren’t aggressive riders.

Brown did not return a phone call from the Journal. He told a deputy Thursday that the bicyclists were in the middle of the road and wouldn’t let him pass. When he did go around the riders, they began “flipping him off,” Brown says in the deputy’s report. He said he lost his temper, slammed on the brakes and reversed his 1998 Honda toward the bicyclists but “stopped just short” of the riders before he felt one hit the car and saw others falling in his rearview mirror. He said he drove away after one bicyclist opened his car door and appeared to want to fight.

Veilleux used an expanded version of “BS” when told of Brown’s account. “He definitely was not stationary,” she said. She also said the riders weren’t in the middle of the road, there was no traffic, the driver had an open lane to pass and that no one “flipped off” the driver. The deputy’s report says Brown’s car “was located” after the wreck and he was “escorted back to the incident scene.”