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Road rage driver to face judge

The man who was arrested in an alleged road rage case last week in Bayview will face a judge next week.

Sean Demerchant of Freeland, is scheduled for arraignment at 1:30 p.m. June 3 in district court. A trial date will be set at that time.

Meanwhile, new details have come to light about the case.

Demerchant was arrested and booked into jail for an alleged assault that occurred on Marshview Avenue near the Bayview Cash Store.

Police said the Freeland man assaulted a bicyclist because he felt she should ride on the shoulder. Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks said he was told that Demerchant was driving an SUV and as he passed the cyclist, Polly Pong, he yelled at her to ride on the shoulder.

“She allegedly responded with a hand gesture, and he allegedly responded by stopping his Durango, getting out, and throwing her to the ground, and then standing over her and yelling at her,” Banks said.

The woman then called police with her cell phone.

When officers arrived at the scene, Demerchant was arrested, charged with fourth-degree assault and held overnight.

Judge Peter Strow released him the next day on his own recognizance, Banks said.

Banks said the incident was unfortunate but should serve as a warning for all drivers on four or two wheels.

“This is an unfortunate sign of the times,” he said. “Like many residents and tourists here, I ride my bike and run a fair amount on the roads of South and Central Whidbey. In recent years, I have noticed more aggressive drivers than in the past.

“It also appears that many drivers do not understand that they must yield to bicycles and pedestrians until it is safe to pass,” he said.

Banks also said while the law says that bicyclists have to drive as far to the right as possible, they are not banned to the shoulder.

“Bicycles are not required to ride on the shoulder, but, unlike cars, are allowed to do so,” Banks explained. “What many car drivers don’t realize and can’t see is that the shoulder surface is often uneven and dangerous, or littered with broken glass and debris that can puncture a tire or topple a rider. Often, blackberry vines, nettles and tree branches protrude into the shoulder area, posing a serious risk to cyclists.”

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