A Vancouver man was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days on a work crew for slamming his brakes in front of a motorcyclist and causing a crash during a road rage incident on state Highway 503.
Duane A. Leichtamer, 56, also pleaded guilty Tuesday in Clark County Superior Court to reckless driving and reckless endangerment. He originally faced one count of vehicular assault before reaching a plea deal with the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. In addition to the work crew, Leichtamer was given a suspended sentence of nearly one year in jail if he violates probation conditions.
Emergency crews responded at 6:37 p.m. Aug. 17 to the intersection of Northeast 117th (Highway 503) and Northeast 119th streets in the Brush Prairie area. Brendan D. Marsh, then 20, was riding a motorcycle northbound behind a Volkswagen Passat when the driver, later identified as Leichtamer, became angry, according to Washington State Patrol.
Witnesses said the Passat unsuccessfully tried to run the motorcycle off the road before pulling in front of it and coming to a sudden stop, according to an affidavit of probable cause. Marsh suffered a severely broken leg when his motorcycle crashed into the stopped car, troopers said.
Witnesses said “there was no way the motorcycle could avoid crashing into the back of the car,” the affidavit reads.
Before troopers arrived, Leichtamer left the crash scene before returning, according to the affidavit. Witnesses believed he had no intention of returning until he realized that his license plate had been reported to police, the affidavit said.
Leichtamer told a trooper he was struck by the motorcycle after he and the motorcyclist “flipped each other off” while northbound on Highway 503, according to the affidavit.
“Duane admitted to changing lanes intentionally to speed up in front of Brendan and further continue the road rage,” the affidavit reads.
Marsh admitted to being involved in the road rage incident as well, but argued that its outcome was unwarranted, according to the affidavit.
Leichtamer had a faint odor of alcohol on his breath, and he refused to perform field sobriety tests, according to the affidavit. A breath test, however, showed that Leichtamer wasn’t impaired.
During the hearing Tuesday, Leichtamer is a registered nurse who has otherwise lived an “exemplary” life, defense attorney Jon McMullen said. McMullen added that a vehicular assault conviction, a felony, would have jeopardized Leichtamer’s nursing license.
Leichtamer said that he has always tried to help people, including volunteer service, and felt bad about Marsh’s injuries.
“For that, I am truly sorry,” he said.
Road rage is a common, scary occurrence on roadways that requires strong will not to retaliate, Judge Bernard Veljacic said.
“Moment of weakness?” the judge asked Leichtamer before the sentencing.
“Yes,” Leichtamer said.