Police: Man punches juvenile in face during road-rage incident in St. George

Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — An Ivins man faces a charge of child abuse after allegedly punching a minor in the face during a road-rage incident in St. George Thursday.

Nicolas Moore, 22, Ivins, booking photo posted in Washington County, Utah, March 7, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

At 4:30 p.m., officers responded to an assault that reportedly took place in the Albertsons grocery store parking lot on Dixie Drive involving 22-year-old Nicholas Moore in a vehicle and four juveniles in another vehicle.

The incident reportedly started when the occupants of the vehicles started making comments back and forth, according a police narrative written about the incident in a probable cause statement.

St. George News is not identifying the juveniles involved in the incident; however, the mother of the boy who was allegedly assaulted by Moore contacted St. George News on Saturday with additional details about the incident.

According to the police narrative, the vehicles followed each other to a number of different stores, but the mother of the juvenile said her son wasn’t in the vehicle at the time of the interactions between the two drivers. She said the “following around” as relayed to her by the juvenile driver sounded to her more like “road tag” than necessarily road rage.

“It was more of a teenage ‘my car is better than yours,'” she said, acknowledging that the kids’ behavior was still not a good idea and that there may have been some provocation back and forth.

“This started on Snow Canyon Parkway and Bluff,” she said, adding that the juveniles came to pick her son up after the fact. “He (the juvenile driver) comes and picks up my son after all this takes place – kind of gives my son a little bit of a low down – my son gets in the car, they pull out of my neighborhood, and this guy (Moore) is waiting out on the main road for them.”

The mother said Moore followed the juveniles to Harmons Neighborhood Grocer and proceeded to follow them around the inside of the store.

The mother said the teens got back in their vehicle, and Moore continued to follow them for several more minutes through various parts of town before they pulled into and parked at the gas station in the Albertson’s parking lot. Moore then allegedly got out of his vehicle, went around to the front passenger side of the other car where the window was down and punched the male juvenile twice in the face.

After allegedly punching the minor, police state that Moore pounded on the hood of the car and punched the driver’s side front window, leaving a “fist sized smudge that was clearly visible.”

According to witness statements included in the police narrative, Moore was seen screaming at the juveniles to get out of the car before fleeing the scene. He returned a short time later and was reportedly cooperative with investigators.

Moore was then arrested and booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane on one misdemeanor count of child abuse for inflicting injury upon a child. Police state that the alleged punches caused redness and swelling to the juvenile’s face. A charge of criminal mischief was also added due to the damage caused to the vehicle when Moore allegedly punched the hood.

The case was forwarded to the Washington County Attorney’s Office for review Friday morning. The investigation is still ongoing, and the mother said there should be repercussions if the kids were involved in the road rage incident.

“It should be investigated,” she said. “These kids need to realize that if you start something like that, it could end very badly.”

Aggressive driving and road rage in Utah and beyond 

Road rage can come in many forms, but the three most common behaviors include blocking drivers from changing lanes, purposefully running other vehicles off the road and using weapons to cause harm to a person or their vehicle.

Infographic shows the percentage of U.S. drivers who say they expressed significant anger or road rage behind the wheel in a one-year period. | Image courtesy of AAA, St. George News

In many states, including Utah, road rage is often categorized as aggressive driving. In 2017, the number of fatalities involving aggressive-driving crashes more than tripled across the Beehive state, killing 85 people. That is triple the number of lives lost in alcohol-related crashes, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.

A nationwide survey of 2,700 licensed drivers released in 2016 by the American Automobile Association found that nearly 80 percent of respondents expressed “significant anger, aggression or road rage” at least once in the past year while they were behind the wheel.

“Far too many drivers are losing themselves in the heat of the moment and lashing out in ways that could turn deadly,” Jurek Grabowski, director of research for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said in the 2016 survey.

Revealing how common incidents like the one in St. George involving Moore and the juveniles are, the survey estimates that more than 7 million drivers got out of their vehicle to confront another driver.

The study also showed that aggressive driving and road rage varies considerably among drivers. Male drivers between the ages of 19-38 were significantly more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors, while drivers living in the northeast part of the country were more likely to yell, honk or gesture angrily than people living in other parts of the country.

Infographic reveals the extent to which drivers engage in “extreme road rage” in the U.S. | Image courtesy of AAA, St. George News

Aggressive driving is defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as “a combination of moving traffic offenses committed by an individual so as to endanger other persons or property.” Such behavior is a major factor in a large number of fatal highway collisions each year.

Speeding is the most common aggressive driving behavior, and it also accounts for more than a one-third of all traffic-related deaths.

In 2016 more than 10,100 lives were lost nationwide in crashes where speed was a primary factor, nearly 40  percent more than the second leading factor — alcohol.

This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Updated March 11, 9:10 a.m. to include statements from the mother of the juvenile allegedly assaulted by Moore.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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