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Probation in Fairview Twp. road-rage attack
A Cumberland County man has avoided prison for intentionally ramming a car several times before smashing its windows with a sledgehammer, angry that its driver had honked at him.
On Wednesday, May 2, Aaron C.J. Vassar, 26, of Hummel Avenue in Lemoyne, pleaded guilty in York County Court to reckless endangerment and driving under the influence, according to court records. As part of his negotiated plea agreement, a charge of aggravated assault was dismissed.
He was sentenced to two years of probation, with the first 90 days on house arrest, and was ordered to take DUI classes and submit to drug-and-alcohol counseling.
The first six months of Vassar's probationary sentence will be an intensive form of supervision, according to court records.
Fairview Township Police said the lengthy two-county road-rage incident started on Hartzdale Drive near the Capital City Mall outside Camp Hill the evening of Jan. 8, 2017.
Vassar was sitting in his Honda Civic at a red light and apparently failed to move when the light turned green, according to court documents.
Mitchell Bumgardner, of the Etters area, was in his Nissan Maxima behind Vassar and honked his horn, police said.
A short time later, Bumgardner realized Vassar was following him south on Interstate 83, police said.
Object thrown: Vassar followed Bumgardner off I-83 at the Fishing Creek exit, at which point he pulled alongside Bumgardner's car and threw an unidentified object at it, court documents state.
Bumgardner followed Vassar's car south on Fishing Creek Road to get his license plate number, according to police, but Vassar slammed on the brakes, causing Bumgardner's car to rear-end the Civic.
After getting the Civic's plate number, Bumgardner tried to get away and later told an officer he didn't feel safe talking with Vassar, "considering the circumstances thus far," documents state.
Vassar started chasing Bumgardner again, this time onto Woodburne Road, according to police.
Car rammed: As Bumgardner was trying to call 911, Vassar rammed his car on the driver's side door, then backed up and rammed Bumgardner's car two more times, police said.
Frightened, Bumgardner crawled over his center console and fled out the front passenger door.
That's when Vassar used a large sledgehammer to smash the windows of Bumgardner's car before raising the hammer at Bumgardner, who fled to a nearby home, police said. Bumgardner called 911 from that home about 6:30 p.m.
By the time an officer arrived, the two men had calmed down and were trying to reattach the front bumper of Vassar's Civic, police said.
Officers noticed that the interior of Vassar's car smelled strongly of marijuana; they found suspected pot seeds and stems inside, according to police.
Vassar was arrested at the scene and taken to York Hospital before prison to be checked for wrist pain and to have blood drawn for testing, police said.
Happy ending: Defense attorney Bill Fulton said some of the reasons prosecutors offered the plea agreement that Vassar accepted was because the victim didn't oppose it, because Vassar has no history of violence and because he consistently held down a job and did well in counseling.
At some point after the encounter, Vassar and Bumgardner realized they knew each other, and they patched things up — a fact that came out in court, according to Fulton.
Fulton said the information led presiding Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner to quip, "That's good. We like happy endings."
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.