The teen “driver stated he was reaching for his cell phone to call his dad and struck the bicyclists before he could react,” Waller officer Charles Mistric wrote in the report Monday.
The teenage driver of a pickup truck that plowed into a group of bicyclists on Saturday was intentionally blowing exhaust on the riders, and was reaching for his cell phone at the time of the crash that left six people injured, according to the Waller Police crash report.
Four cyclists were taken to the hospital, two by helicopter, following the crash Saturday morning as cyclists were on a training ride along U.S. 290 Business west of Waller. Neither the teen nor a 17-year-old passenger in the truck were injured. Both remained at the scene of the crash.
“Drivers seem to underestimate the enormous responsibility that comes with piloting a truck this size,” said Joe Cutrufo, executive director of the advocacy group BikeHouston. “There is a duty of care to others that this driver clearly wasn’t prepared for.” In the police report, relying on witness accounts from cyclists, Mistric noted the teen — who is not named because he is a minor — failed to control his speed “as he accelerated to intentionally blow black diesel smoke,” on the riders.
In Texas, a 16-year-old on the second phase of the state’s graduated driver’s license program can operate a car or truck with one passenger in the vehicle who is not a relative. The rules for teen drivers forbid them from using a wireless device, except in an emergency.
Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis in a post Wednesday said if the incident involved “rolling coal” as the practice sometimes is called, it would make it an assault.
“They are causing their vehicle to ‘spit’ on a living, breathing, human being that is worthy of dignity and not having his or her person violated,” Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis wrote in a Facebook post. “That simple assault is easily elevated to a jail eligible offense if bodily injury occurs.”
Rick DeToto, a lawyer hired by the teen’s family, said Wednesday that the teen is a new driver and police at the scene spoke to him and declined to cite him. All of the riders, Mistric said in the report, were riding two abreast. One frequent complaint by drivers in Waller County is cyclists who spread into the road, but there is no evidence that was the case when the crash occurred. Bicyclists, while encouraged to s