VERNON - Nobody likes waiting in road construction, but most people manage to keep their cool.
Not this guy.
Last Wednesday, Aug. 9, a man allegedly reached out of his car and physically assaulted a traffic flagger by pushing her and grabbing her stop sign. The incident was witnessed and reported to the RCMP, confirms Sgt. Colby Attlesey.
According to the flagger— who asked only to be identified by her middle name because she’s afraid the driver will seek retaliation — she was working in a construction area on College Way in Vernon around 3 p.m. when two drivers in separate cars began verbally abusing another flagger. The other flagger was stopping cars leaving the Okanagan College parking lot.
When they got the go-ahead to proceed through the construction zone, both sped through.
“I heard my flagger yell ‘slow down,’” Gale says. “I stepped out, kind of a long way in front of them, in their lane and I’m waving my paddle with my stop sign to get him to slow down.”
The first car, blue and possibly a Mazda, showed no sign of slowing down, so Gale moved out of the way.
“I was very angry when he went by me and I turned around and whacked the back of his car with my cardboard paddle,” she says.
She was trying to get his license plate number — she thinks it starts with DXS — when she was hit in the back and almost knocked over. Gale describes herself as being in her late 50s, 5’2” tall and 130 lbs.
She turned around and the driver in the second car — a white Audi with a sunroof — grabbed her paddle from her and threw it in the ditch. She believes he was in his mid-20s to early 30s and was heavy set.
“He called me an effing bitch and all kinds of names and… took off,” she says.
She believes he reached out of his window and hit her in the back without leaving the vehicle.
“He hit me from behind. I wasn’t seriously hurt but I could have been. He almost knocked me over. If I’d have fallen down onto the ground, he could’ve run me over, or the crew working there with the roller (could have) if they didn’t see me,” Gale says.
It’s not the first time she’s encountered an angry driver, but says it’s the first time she has been physically touched, which has left her shaken.
“We do have a lot of ignorant people who basically have tried to run us over. They ignore you, yell foul words at you,” she says.
She hopes the driver will see some consequences for what happened, and also thinks it would be a good idea for flaggers to start wearing body cams or go-pros.
“It’s not OK to assault a flagger,” she says. “The main thing is be patient. Slow down. There is a crew working, there’s flaggers there for a reason.”
Anyone who witnessed the incident, got a plate number, or knows anything else is asked to call he Vernon RCMP and cite file #2017-18330.
“It is definitely concerning,” Sgt. Attlesey says. “Anyone who knows these people or has any information, contact us."
The phone number for the Vernon RCMP detachment is 250-545-7171.
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