‘Everybody’s angry’ Behind the increasing road rage on St. Louis area roads

FOX Files

ST. LOUIS – FOX File crews have spent the last several weeks on the roads, recording bad behavior by drivers. Research uncovered two roads where you could be at the most risk. The investigation began after viewers reported what they perceived to be increased anger on the road. An exclusive video was obtained of a woman pointing a gun at a passing driver.

No one knows the anger of drivers better than two Parkway South High School students. Jose Vazquez and Liya Conner watched two grown men, in their 70’s, become violent in their school parking lot.

“I could not believe my eyes that a man could run him over twice,” Vazquez said.

Conner added, “It’s really upsetting and sometimes does not make me feel safe at all.”

Conner used her lifeguard training to help the man who was run over, while police say Vazquez stopped 73-year-old Michael Gallagher from running over the man for the third time. They were arguing about how one of them cut off the other on Manchester Road.

“He was so focused on being angry, he couldn’t rationally figure out what he was doing. It’s like he was in a different world. It was just pure anger,” Conner said.

Prosecutors have now charged Gallagher with assault and armed criminal action.

When Gallagher was about to run over the victim a third time, Vazquez said his face was “stone cold.”

“When I told him to stop the car before he was going to run over him the third time, I was crying, yelling at him, ‘Sir, please stop,’ and he had a solid face as if nothing had happened,” he said.

These students are innocent victims of road rage. Police tell Fox 2 that’s common – that they often find victims who are not involved in the road rage, like an I-70 pile up in October in which Fox 2 obtained exclusive access. It shows the aftermath of regular drivers suddenly surrounded by aggressive drivers. Then a reported sideswipe led to a pileup in the aggressive drivers’ wake.

“A crash occurred because of what two other people were doing, “Sgt. Brian Sullivan said.

Sullivan patrols for the North County Police Cooperative.

“The two people that caused it are long gone,” he added.

That’s what Kemeric Winston says he saw — aggressive drivers around him – before he was shot on I-70.

Winston spoke to Fox 2 about it exclusively in September.

On Tuesday, he added more about what he saw right before he blacked out.

“I saw the back passenger window down and a guy was pointing a gun at me. I was like no, don’t shoot,” he said.

A bullet went straight through his head, blinding him.

Fox 2 dug into the numbers to find that the increased road danger is more than your perception – it’s real. Data from the Missouri Statewide Traffic Accident Record System, (S.T.A.R.S.) was sorted through.

The search was narrowed for fatal crashes involving “aggressive” or “hazardous driving.” A 37% increase in St. Louis County from 2019 to 2020 was found – and that’s with fewer cars on the road during the first part of the pandemic.

Numbers remain steady this year, with red dots indicating examples all over our region. It was noticed two places where they are concentrated this year. In Berkeley, a three-mile stretch of I-170 along with the airport in which 12 people this year have been involved in fatal crashes tied to aggressive driving.

Also, in North St. Louis County, a three-mile stretch of Lewis and Clark, also known as 367. A total of 13 people were involved in fatal aggressive driving crashes on that stretch so far this year.

Sgt. Sullivan talked about seeing increased speeds since COVID. He described a man “… Doing 90 miles an hour through a business district. That’s insane.”

Sgt Sullivan said he saw the roads change when the pandemic hit.

“It’s like people have the mentality that the roads are open and I’m going to go as fast as I want but it’s not just speeding, people following too close and you’re on each other’s bumpers,” he said.

He added that aggressive driving has not improved with roads returning to normal and drivers are angrier than ever.

“They feel invincible,” Sullivan said.

The message from Sgt. Sullivan is to treat another driver like you would if you were face to face with them in the grocery store. Don’t walk on their heels. If they do it to you? He says let the police handle them.

Video of the woman pointing a gun was turned over to the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office. No charges have been filed at this time.

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