Driver's good deed taken for road rage Man is asked to pay for breaking window of stricken motorist

November 14, 1997|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

It looked like another case of road rage: a 36-year-old man taking a baseball bat to, and finally punching his fist through, the window of a car that had been weaving across Mountain Road and was stopped sideways across both lanes.

But Steven Bledsoe, who was wielding the bat, said he was just trying to help someone he had seen run off the road twice and who appeared to be in trouble.

"I assumed he was having some type of seizure," said Bledsoe of Edgewater. "I could tell he was in trouble."

ZTC Nobody seems to appreciate a good Samaritan anymore.

Raymond L. Johnson, the driver of the weaving car, thought he was being assaulted while he was going into insulin shock and wants Bledsoe to pay for the window.

"He overreacted," said Johnson, 63, a retired Chesapeake High School science teacher. "He had no reason to break [the window]. If he had just slowed down and not gotten so panicky, everything would have been OK."

Witnesses called police to report an assault, but when officers arrived, they found Bledsoe helping Johnson out of the car.

"They thought there was a big fight there between the parties," said Officer Jay Schline, who was the first to arrive. "He was helping him out instead of being irate. I think he did a great job."

Bledsoe, who moved to Edgewater this month from Delaware, said he had taken his son to a dentist in Pasadena on Wednesday morning and took a wrong turn on Mountain Road on his way home.

He was heading east on Mountain Road, about a quarter-mile from Gibson Island, when he saw Johnson's 1993 Ford Taurus coming at him, weaving across the road, he said. The car nearly hit Bledsoe's 1993 Chevrolet 1500 pickup truck, then swerved and stopped in bushes on the west side of the road, Bledsoe said.

He said he got out of his truck to check on the driver, but the man sped off. Johnson said he drove into the bush while swerving to miss a deer that was crossing the road. Bledsoe said he did not see a deer.

When Bledsoe reached the Gibson Island causeway and realized he was going the wrong way, he turned around and wound up about three cars behind Johnson's.

Again, he said, he saw the car weaving and nearly running into oncoming cars. This time, the car stopped in the middle of the road, and Bledsoe went to help again.

"I ran up yelling, 'Roll the window down,' " Bledsoe said. "He was laying on the front seat with his head in the passenger seat. He wrapped his hands around [himself] and was [shaking]. When I spotted that, I knew this man was in trouble."

Bledsoe said an unidentified man in a pickup truck stopped, and Bledsoe told the man to call 911.

Johnson looked at the muscular Bledsoe and, instead of rolling down his car window, drove off in fear. "What would you do if some big guy came up to you and started beating at your window?" asked Johnson, who lives on Bay Front Road about a half-mile from the exclusive Gibson Island community. "I would have rolled the window down for [my neighbor], but I didn't stop for him."

Johnson's car then weaved into oncoming traffic, Bledsoe said. Police reports said the car ran off the west shoulder, into a ditch and back onto the road and then stopped across the east lane, just east of Long Point Road.

Bledsoe pulled his truck in front of Johnson's car, got out and approached it again.

Johnson "was all the way on the floorboard of the car," Bledsoe said, and the air bag was inflated. Bledsoe returned to his truck, grabbed his son's baseball bat and started swinging at the driver's side window. The glass splintered but did not fall out.

"When he sat up, I put my fist through it," Bledsoe said. "I put it in park and took the keys out and unlocked the power door locks. I picked him up to try to talk to him, and he started screaming he needed sugar."

Johnson said he stopped the car himself.

"As soon as I realized I was having a reaction, I turned the car off and put the car in park," Johnson said. "I was down on the floor looking for candy bars" that he keeps under the passenger seat for such an emergency.

Police reports say Johnson was "unresponsive" when Bledsoe approached the car, which was running, in gear and locked before Bledsoe broke the window.

Paramedics, who arrived after police, gave Johnson glucose to increase his blood sugar level, and paramedics treated Bledsoe for minor cuts to his hand.

Pub Date: 11/14/97

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