Driver accused of road rage with car, orange

A driver hit a man in the head with an orange, then tried to hit him with his car, deputies say.

By JOEL ANDERSON, Times Staff Writer
Published January 24, 2008

BROOKSVILLE - The hurled orange hit its mark perfectly. But Jeremy Velez was much less successful, authorities say, when he tried to strike David Ross with his car.

Velez, 20, of Brooksville faces a felony charge of aggravated assault for allegedly trying to hit Ross with his car in a fit of road rage Tuesday morning. Velez remained in custody Wednesday at the Hernando County Jail in lieu of a $1,500 bail.

Authorities say Ross, 37, was heading east on Powell Road in a 2006 Ford Expedition about 10:30 a.m. and preparing to turn left onto California Street when Velez quickly approached from behind in a red '96 Honda Civic. Ross said he was then forced out of the turning lane because Velez tried to pass him on the left, according to a report from the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

Once Velez drove just east of the intersection of Powell and California, Ross accused him of slowing down rapidly and throwing an orange out of his passenger window. The fruit smacked Ross in the head and bounced out of his car, the report said.

Ross stopped his vehicle to inspect for damage and said Velez backed toward him at a high rate in the oncoming lane of Powell Road, then spun his vehicle around so it was headed west.

Ross told police he followed Velez in his car to take down the Civic's license plate number. The 3-mile chase took them south on California, west on Spring Hill Drive and north on Barclay Avenue.

At Barclay, Ross said, Velez slammed hard on his brakes, causing Ross to veer sharply to the left and come to a stop. Velez drove away, the report said.

Using the license plate number obtained by Ross, a sheriff's deputy tracked down Velez and the Civic at his home at 240 E Early St.

Velez admitted to throwing the orange and the road rage incident, deputies said, but claimed Ross was the instigator.

A witness later confirmed Ross' version of the events, telling deputies that Velez's abrupt stop was "an obvious attempt to get Ross' vehicle to ram into his."

Velez is set to appear in court for the assault charge on Feb. 19.

Joel Anderson can be reached at joelanderson@sptimes.com or 754-6120.