A Wildomar man accused of running four bicyclists off the road near La Cresta – including one rider, Ernie Sanchez, who serves as captain of the Temecula California Highway Patrol -- has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon and reckless driving.
The charges were filed in July against Todd Michael Christopher, 40, a year after the alleged incident occurred.
According to court records, on July 24, 2012, Christopher was traveling westbound on Clinton Keith Road near Avenida La Cresta in a white 2005 GMC SUV that had horse stickers and a horse-design trailer hitch cover. He wasn’t towing at the time of the incident, according to the records, but when he came up to Sanchez and the other bicyclists, he began honking his horn.
The cyclists allegedly got in line, parallel to the roadway, but as Christopher passed, the truck grazed a rider’s elbow, according to the documents. Christopher is then accused of slowing his truck and veering into the cyclists, forcing them onto a dirt shoulder.
Christopher then drove off toward Tenaja Road, according to the documents. The incident location is west of Murrieta in unincorporated area along the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, a stretch used by bicyclists from around the region.
Although Christopher was not identified by the riders at the time of the alleged incident, they took down his license plate and called police. The California Highway Patrol responded and was able to confirm the truck belonged to Christopher.
The CHP has jurisdiction over unincorporated areas.
The same night as the alleged incident, CHP officer A. Ramborger went to Christopher’s address in Wildomar and got his statement.
According to court documents, Christopher told Ramborger he remembered passing the riders and yelling out the window, “Get the f--- out of the road,” but he denied trying to run them off the street, the court documents state.
Christopher complained of other “run-ins” with riders in the area, but the CHP officer advised him that bicyclists have the same rights to the road as cars and trucks, the records show.Christopher is now scheduled for arraignment Sept. 27. According to court documents, he is charged with four counts of misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon and one count of misdemeanor reckless driving.