Beachwood man made driver “fear for his life” in road rage incident
New details are available from a car accident that took place on July 6 on Hooper Avenue in Toms River involving a Beachwood man, who also serves as a member of the Toms River Board of Education.
In a Toms River Police report obtained by WOBM News, Daniel Leonard, 42, of Beachwood is accused of speeding down Hooper Avenue and tailing a man in the moments leading up to the car crash.
Police say that Leonard was heading northbound in a 2016 Toyota pickup truck on Hooper Avenue approaching the intersection with the exit ramp that leads onto Bay Avenue when he ran off the road, struck a curb and traveled over a grassy area between the ramps, hopped over the second ramp and crashed into a tree after heading into an embankment.
Leonard told police that an unknown white Audi sedan changed lanes in front of him to access that exit ramp causing him to drive off of the road.
Three witnesses told Toms River Police officers that Leonard was traveling at a high rate of speed and at one point began chasing the white Audi sedan.
One of the witnesses told police that Leonard was speeding from the time he got onto Hooper Avenue from Water Street in downtown Toms River and was seen passing vehicles on the right side of the road.
Another of the witnesses said they saw Leonard chasing the white Audi where Hooper Avenue crosses by Caudina Avenue.
All three witnesses told police they saw the white Audi try to exit onto the ramp on Bay Avenue and that Leonard tried to follow him but was unable to do so and crashed into a tree.
The witnesses believed the white Audi driver was trying to get away from Leonard's truck.
Following the crash, police say that Leonard explained to them that he was stopped in the right lane of Hooper Avenue at the intersection of Edkin Avenue and the white Audi was in the center lane.
When the traffic light turned green Leonard said the white Audi cut him off. He continued to follow the Audi which then "allegedly cut him off again to exit onto Eastbound Bay Avenue."
Police say that Leonard's statement changed multiple times when they were speaking with him.
Officers say Leonard told them he was behind the Audi the entire time and when the Audi cut him off is when he went off the road.
When police asked Leonard how the Audi cut him off and if he was behind it the entire time, Leonard said that the Audi applied the brakes.
Police say that Leonard then "was observed to be agitated and uncooperative with police during the crash investigation."
Leonard's pickup truck had to be towed from the scene due to front end damage and he suffered a facial laceration and a contusion to his left leg. He refused medical attention at the scene but said that he was going to Community Medical Center for treatment in a personal vehicle. His passenger suffered a facial laceration but refused treatment at the scene.
When police then made contact with the driver of the white Audi, he told police that he was stopped in the center lane at a traffic light on Hooper Avenue and Edkin Avenue.
When the light turned green, he said that all vehicles accelerated.
As his vehicle maintained a position in front of Leonard's, he told officers that Leonard began honking at him and tailgating.
The driver told police that he then turned into the parking lot of the TD Bank on Hooper Avenue but that Leonard followed him at a high rate of speed.
The driver re-entered the roadway and began to speed to try and get away from Leonard, but he continued to follow the Audi even when both vehicles were in the shoulder of the road.
He said that as he entered the ramp on Bay Avenue at a high rate of speed, Leonard tried to follow him but was unsuccessful.
The driver then went right to the police station to report the incident, adding that "he was fearful of his life as (the 2016 Toyota pickup truck) was following him."
Police determined after hearing both drivers accounts plus the witness accounts that Leonard was at fault in the accident.
Police believe that Leonard "became enraged" when the Audi cut him off and followed the driver at a high rate of speed, including passing other vehicles on the shoulder.
Officers determined that due to the distance that Leonard traveled into the embankment between Hooper Avenue and Bay Avenue, his speed was "not conducive to proper control on the roadway."
He was then given summonses for Reckless Driving and Failure to Maintain Travel Lane.
The accident is being investigated by Toms River Traffic Safety Officer P.J. Gambardella.
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