What You Missed: Texas DA Charges “Rolling Coal” Teen Who Hit Cyclists

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Welcome to What You Missed, our daily digest of breaking news and topical perspectives from across the outdoor world. You can also get this news delivered to your email inbox six days a week by signing up for the What You Missed newsletter.

The scales of justice may be shifting in Texas.

This week the district attorney in Waller County, Texas levied six felony charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against a teenager who struck six cyclists with his pickup truck on September 25 on a country road outside of Houston. The incident received national attention because the teenager had been allegedly attempting to intentionally spray the riders with exhaust—an action known as “rolling coal.”

Four of the six victims were hospitalized, and two of them required emergency airlifting to a Houston-area hospital. They had been on an organized training ride preparing for an Ironman triathlon.

In the weeks following the crash, the incident became a flashpoint in the national debate over driver culpability in incidents of aggressive behavior toward cyclists. Intentional attacks on cyclists from drivers are nothing new. Earlier this year a 58-year-old cyclist in Arizona was hit and killed by a driver who intentionally plowed into a bicycle race and then fled the scene.

Local police in the Texas case initially allowed the driver to leave the scene with his parents without even a minor citation. The lack of charges created an uproar in communities of cyclists and other outdoor athletes across the country.

The very blatant nature of the attack—and eyewitness accounts of it—made it one of the most heinous examples of police inaction in cases involving aggressive driving. One of the cyclists who had been on the ride, Chase Farrell, told multiple media outlets that the driver had already harassed other cyclists on the ride before targeting the six who he later hit.

“The reason he couldn’t stop is because he was accelerating to blow more diesel fuel on these cyclists,” Farrell said.

In the days after the incident, the Waller County DA’s office admitted in a Facebook post that the authorities did not handle the crash properly, and launched its own investigation.

“We wish them the speediest of recoveries on their long journey ahead, and remind everyone to share the roads, obey the traffic laws, and to treat each other with the respect that we all deserve,” the DA said in a statement.

The Wild Apple

The urban jungle is teeming with wildlife—hawks, eagles, and even monarch butterflies. Lisa Collins of The New York Times interviewed naturalists, horticulturalists, and the executive director of the city’s Audubon Society about the recent uptick in wildlife sightings across the city. Recent sightings include bats and butterflies, native bees, salamanders and frogs, and even a coyote in Central Park.

Alas, this is not an example of the pandemic-inspired “nature is healing” meme. Naturalists attribute the surge to the city’s recent investments to clean up public parks, rivers, forests, and wetlands, and the decision to spend billions converting former landfills into nature sanctuaries—and not due to us hiding indoors for 15 months.

The city’s soaring population of sewer rats also appears ready to welcome the new wild guests.

Warranty Voided

Here’s one hydrofoil board to avoid buying on Ebay.

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