The man at the centre of a controversy involving a pair of Vernon horseback riders and accused of road rage said the version of events presented in media circles is not what happened.
The man, who did not want to give his name, citing the fact he’s been scorned in social media forums, was accused by a Vernon woman and her friend, both on horseback, of road rage being directed at them.
The pair were travelling on the left side of Bella Vista Road heading toward Okanagan Lake Friday morning, April 26, when one of the horseback riders said “a man in a vehicle decided to peel out and make two U-turns in the middle of the road to yell at us, and said he “drove by us three times to be a jerk.”
Not so, said the man in the vehicle.
“I was coming toward Vernon and I rounded a corner and the two of them were in my lane, side by side, one on the shoulder, one beside the other,” said the man. “I stopped my vehicle as they were in my lane and a car coming toward us in the other lane had also stopped even though they had the right of way.
“About 10 seconds passed, nobody was moving, including the horses. I figured the other car would move because they had the clear lane. I threw my hands up in the air in frustration over the other driver stopping when they had the right of way, and I accelerated and moved out into the other lane to avoid the horses.”
As he drove past the horseback riders, the man said the woman on the horse in the lane “flipped him the bird.”
“Guessing they seen me throw my hands up in the air and thinking I was mad at them,” said the man, who then pulled a U-turn because he wanted to go back and tell the horseback riders he wasn’t upset with them, but frustrated by the driver of the other vehicle for stopping when they had the right of way.
He said he turned around, pulled up and stopped beside them and tried to tell them just that, but the woman who flipped him the bird said something to the effect of ‘you need to slow down.’
“Realizing she didn’t want to hear what I had to say I carried on around the corner to turn around and continue on into town,” said the driver.
He came to a right-hand road turn, and pulled onto the road to turn his vehicle around to head back toward Vernon heading eastbound on Bella Vista. As he was stopped, he said, another vehicle drove past and “either shook their fist at me, gave me the bird or something.
“This must have been the driver of the other car who had stopped in the other lane and took the pictures,” said the man, referring to photos used in media accounts and posted on social media.
The incident, he said, has left him “absolutely devastated.”
“I wasn’t upset at all with the people on horseback but it’s been painted that way in the media and on social media,” he said. “This whole thing has been blown way out of proportion. I can understand why the driver of the other vehicle who took the pictures would assume I was upset with the riders because of the distance he or she was away from us but I never was. I was merely frustrated over the actions of the other driver for not proceeding when they had the right of way yet left all of us just sitting there.
“I should have just kept going in the first place rather than trying to explain myself and then I wouldn’t be defending myself for something that didn’t happen the way it’s being portrayed.
“It is truly unfortunate social media has created a platform that allows one person to slam another, making the accuser judge, jury and executioner, and causing those who follow these social pages to accept and believe every word written as gospel.”
The driver was also frustrated with the mainstream media, including The Morning Star.
“It is even more disappointing an organization such as yours would propagate such rumours and gossip, and contribute to trial by media without the other side having a fair opportunity to provide their version of the story at the same time. There’s always two sides to every story.”