Wellsville man gets prison time for Conewago Twp. road rage incident

Zachary Widener

A Wellsville man will could spend nearly two years in prison after pleading guilty to charges related to a road rage incident in May.

On Aug. 16, Zachary Ryan Widener, 26, pleaded guilty to simple assault and driving with a suspended license, court records state. 

His other charges, which included aggravated assault and making terroristic threats, were dismissed as a result of his plea agreement. 

Sentencing: Widener was sentenced to six to 23 months in York County Prison, with credit for 19 days he already spent in prison, according to online court records. He must also undergo a mental health evaluation, as well as a violence-prevention program.

Jay Whittle, Widener's defense attorney, said Widener is remorseful for his actions.

"My client took a situation and escalated it way beyond what it should have, and he certainly acknowledged that that was improper," he said, adding that it was especially improper because Widener did it in front of his child. 

Widener, he said, confessed to the crimes and is willing to face the consequences.

He added that he and his client believed the plea agreement was appropriate. 

He has to report to York County Prison on Sept. 10, according to court records.

Background: Northern York County Regional Police say Widener tried to stab another driver while saying "I'm going to kill you" after the two pulled over on May 10. 

Police say the victim had turned onto Locust Point Road from Parrot Lane about 10:15 a.m. when he noticed a PT Cruiser going extremely fast behind him.

Widener, the driver of the PT Cruiser, was "flailing his arms," and the victim pulled over so Widener could get around, officials said.

Widener didn't go around him, according to police, but instead confronted the driver.

Police say Zachary Widener was drove off in this PT Cruiser after a road rage incident in Conewago Township on May 10. Photo courtesy of Northern York County Regional Police.

He pulled out a large knife and attempted to stab the victim through the driver's window, but only caused a deep scratch to the window, charging documents state.

Widener then walked around to the passenger side front window, which was down, and reached in with the knife, officials said. Court documents state that Widener stabbed the front passenger seat with the knife and yelled, "I'm going to kill you."

He also tried breaking the victim's passenger-side rearview mirror, officials said. Widener got back into his car and backed up onto the grass so the victim couldn't see his license plate, according to charging documents. The victim was able to get a picture of Widener and his car, police said.

The victim later found Widener's PT Cruiser parked at a trailer park in the 5000 block of Susquehanna Trail, and officers went there and detained him, court documents state.

Widener told police that the whole incident began on Interstate 83, and he thought the victim was tailgating him, officials said.

"Z. Widener advised he had enough and decided to pull over and approach (the victim)," Officer Tanner Tyson wrote in charging documents.

He told police he grabbed a knife from his car and approached the victim, then punched his driver's side window, police said. He admitted to going to the passenger side and stabbing the seat but said he didn't remember what else happened because his rage "caused things to go blurry," according to court documents.

Widener gave police the knife he used in the incident, officials said. Police say he had his 3-year-old son in the car at the time of the incident. He also was found to have a suspended driver's license, charging documents state.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.