Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Public safety

Deputies: New Port Richey woman attacks driver and witness in Oldsmar road rage incident

OLDSMAR — A New Port Richey woman was arrested on assault and battery charges Tuesday morning after repeatedly ramming her car into another driver's vehicle, then attacking that driver, officials said.

The onslaught began when Bonnie N. Coleman, 31, was driving west on Tampa Road in Oldsmar and Therese O'Neill, 29, cut in front of her 2012 Saturn station wagon.

Coleman didn't like that, deputies said, so she ran into the rear bumper of O'Neill's 1992 Dodge station wagon.

"They didn't know each other," said Pinellas County sheriff's spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda. "It just appears the victim had switched lanes and the suspect became very angry."

According to deputies, it didn't stop there. Coleman trailed O'Neill and bumped her car several times, officials said, before they reached East Lake Road and were stopped by a red light.

Coleman then tried to push O'Neill's station wagon into the intersection, deputies said.

That's when O'Neill retaliated. She backed up into Coleman's car, then ran the light to try to escape the enraged driver, according to the Sheriff's Office.

"I think she was trying her best to do what she could to get away from this woman," Barreda said. "But (Coleman) continued and continued and was so persistent. It didn't end."

Deputies said Coleman followed O'Neill from Tampa Road onto Mayfair Place in Palm Harbor, where the two women got out of their cars and began to fight. Coleman pulled O'Neill's hair, kicked and punched her, officials said.

A 45-year-old witness to the road rage incident, Jill Ann Atwood, stopped nearby, called 911, then got out of her car, ran up to the brawling women and attempted to help O'Neill.

Coleman struck Atwood in the eye with her fist, deputies said.

Both O'Neill and Atwood were taken to Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor with non-life-threatening injuries following the attack.

Drivers who feel they are being targeted in road rage incidents should do their best to get out of the situation and call for help, Barreda said.

Coleman was charged with aggravated battery, aggravated assault with a motor vehicle and simple battery. Deputies said she was uncooperative to the last and acted "agitated" as she was taken into custody.

She was held Tuesday in the Pinellas County Jail as an investigation into the incident continued.

Marissa Lang can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4155. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

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