DELAWARE, OH — Investigators from the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office are looking into claims of aggressive driving and harassment of cyclists during a triathlon last month.
During the cycling portion of the MingoMan triathlon, participants are reporting a red pickup truck was ‘rolling coal’, brake checking, and in some cases forcing them off the road or into oncoming traffic lanes.
Rolling coal is the practice of blowing thick black smoke out of the exhaust from a modified diesel engine.
The act of rolling coal on a competition where participants could lose control of their bicycle and end up crashing and causing a pileup that injures people or worse gets someone killed is bad enough. But intentionally forcing someone into the oncoming traffic lane as they bike up hill, unable to see what could be cresting that hill, is incredibly reckless and shows a disregard for human life according to cyclists present that day.
Courtney Maher was one of the victims. She says, this kind of behavior on the road is not funny and is completely unacceptable.
“It is people’s lives that you’re toying with, and it makes me furious,” said Maher. “It’s a split second where you think you are playing around, and you’re actually threatening somebody’s life and can take it in an instant.”
Delaware County Sheriff’s deputy Captain Scott Vance agrees that the kind of driving described by the victims is unacceptable.
“The vehicle can be considered a weapon based on your operation,” said Vance. “You need to operate it with due regard for the safety of all persons not just yourself.”
The day of the race, only one complaint was filed with the sheriff’s office, but since then they have begun hearing from more participants exactly what happened to them.
At first, all the deputies thought happened was a driver rolling coal on the riders, but as they learn of the more aggressive maneuvers being taken they are being forced to consider what should be done about it.
“In any case, we would take the complete story and the facts presented by witnesses involved,” said Vance. “In some cases, we may seek prosecutorial review for additional possible charges.”
With another triathlon set in Delaware County for the end of July, safety along the course will be a high priority.
Whether this incident is used to send a message to other drivers about what will happen if you put other’s lives in danger remains to be seen.