Her apology wasn't enough for enraged driver

  • Article by: JIM ADAMS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 29, 2008 - 1:31 PM

A Prior Lake woman caught up in a road-rage incident followed the man to his truck, trying to apologize. But he picked up the 5-foot-5, 125-pound mother of five and tossed her into rush-hour traffic on Hwy. 169.

Jennifer Boulden had just made a slow U-turn on Hwy. 169 south of Shakopee, when the guy coming up fast behind her started honking and motioning to pull over.

She stopped on the shoulder and the man got out of his pickup. She rolled her window down and said he started screaming at her. He walked away, and she followed him to his truck, trying to apologize. He kept swearing. She got scared and tried to call 911, but he grabbed her cell phone and threw it on the highway, she said. It shattered. Then he picked up the 5-foot-5, 125-pound mother of five from Prior Lake and tossed her.

"I was high in the air and then I was in [the] middle of 169 northbound," she recalled from her hospital bed Thursday morning at St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee. "I remember rolling over and hearing skidding brakes. A lady got out and stopped traffic. A man ran and scooped me up and carried me to side of road."

Road rage assaults happen, but this kind is rare.

"I hear about fights, but not a man taking a female and throwing her on a road. That's a new one for me," said State Patrol Lt. Mark Peterson.

The state doesn't collect road rage data, but Peterson thinks aggressive driving is gradually increasing along with highway congestion, notably during rush hours. To avoid serious or even fatal outcomes, "Do not play the game," he said. "Disengage at the earliest opportunity."

Boulden, 34, who was en route to a bridesmaid fitting Monday afternoon, made the legal U-turn after missing her exit into Shakopee.

"It was my fault to begin with because I did swerve," she said. "I should have been more careful. I tried to apologize."

The man sped off in his truck but nobody got his license plate number, said Capt. Greg Muelken of the Scott County Sheriff's office. He said witnesses gave varying descriptions of the truck and man, who was in his 40s with graying hair. Anyone who saw or has information about the incident is asked to call the sheriff's office at 952-445-1411. Muelken said Boulden would not be cited.

Muelken advised drivers in a situation with an angry, honking motorist to call for help on a cell phone and not to stop except in a public area with people around. "You don't know what to expect, unfortunately," he said.

Boulden was released from the hospital Thursday afternoon. She said she was amazed by the dozen or so motorists who stopped to help before rescue workers arrived. She asked some of them to call her husband and mother.

Jessica Uitermarkt and her father  of LeSueur were among those who stopped as they drove by at about 5:30 p.m. "I saw her flying into the middle of the road and the truck sped off," said Jessica Uitermarkt, 23. They parked between Boulden, lying in the outside lane, and oncoming traffic. Phil Uitermarkt lifted Boulden and laid her on the shoulder, and then in her car.

Several of the Good samaritans have since called to see how Boulden is doing. She said she's taking pain medication for two herniated discs in her spinal column and a severely injured lower back and right leg. She expects to start physical therapy today and may need surgery. Relatives are taking care of her and her husband's five kids, ages 2 to 14, she said.

Boulden said she'd like to ask the pickup driver why he was so angry.

"Why couldn't he have been an adult about it when all I wanted to do was apologize? That shouldn't happen. I don't want it to happen to anybody else. I guess I was one of the lucky ones."

Jim Adams • 612-673-7658

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  • Jennifer Boulden


    If an aggressive driver cuts you off or upsets you, the Minnesota State Patrol suggests:

    •Avoid eye contact with the other driver.

    •Get out of their way and keep your cool.

    •Stay in your lane and don't speed.

    •Don't honk or flash your lights.

    •Don't challenge them, tailgate or use offensive hand signs.

    •If possible, plan ahead to avoid rush hour or high volume traffic areas that can cause short tempers.

    •Report aggressive driving (vehicle description, license number, location).

    •Always buckle up to maintain proper seating position in case of abrupt driving maneuvers.

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