Timothy Tyler struggles to describe what was going through his mind when he was deliberately run down by a complete stranger in an SUV and sent flying through the air like a rag doll.
“It’s just way too much to explain,” he said on Tuesday, just days after the road rage hit-and-run in Saint John that was captured on video and is being widely circulated on social media.
“I just, I don’t know, I couldn’t believe that I got hit by a car,” he said. “I have to go see a shrink now because of it … because of the terror in my mind.”
Tyler, 23, suffered a dislocated shoulder, but realizes it could have been much worse — and just as he’s been getting his life back on track, staying off drugs and out of trouble with the law, holding down a steady job, with a baby on the way.
He says he keeps reliving the moment of impact with the black Audi SUV in nightmares. “The same thing over and over.”
A 69-year-old man is now behind bars, awaiting sentencing for assaulting Tyler with his SUV on Feb. 23, dangerous driving and leaving the scene of an accident.
Altercation over getting baby in car seat
Tyler says it all started over a parking spot at a doctor’s office in Grand Bay-Westfield.
He says he was with his best friend, who took his three-month-old son to the doctor that morning. When they were leaving, they temporarily parked perpendicularly behind the SUV while his friend’s girlfriend was getting the baby secured into a car seat.
When the SUV owner saw he was blocked in, he “started freaking out and making a big deal about it,” said Tyler. “He was just being ignorant and freaking and swearing in front of the” baby and Tyler’s friend’s other 18-month-old son.
‘He threatened me and said I’m going to be in the ground and then all of a sudden, he hit me with his car.’ – Timothy Tyler
The man said something “right rude” to the girlfriend, “like calling her a name or something and my best friend, he told him to shut up for a minute; it’s only going to take a minute to put the baby in a car seat.”
Tyler says another older man in a van witnessed the verbal exchange and told them not to worry, to take their time.
But the SUV owner “just lost it from there and followed us and tried running us off the road,” with the baby and the toddler on board, said Tyler.
“He was trying to rear-end us and then he got in front of us and locked up his brakes, trying to get us to rear-end him, he was trying to ram the side where the kids were,” he said.
The SUV chased their white Volkswagen Jetta all the way to Coldbrook Crescent on the city’s east side, he said — about a 30-minute eastward drive, according to Google Maps.
When they parked and got out of the car, Tyler says there was another war of words. “He threatened me and said I’m going to be in the ground and then all of a sudden, he hit me with his car.”
Tyler’s friend’s girlfriend, who on the phone with Saint John police at the time and videotaping the confrontation, screamed, “Oh my God, he just hit my friend.”
“He smoked him,” she told the dispatcher, as she ran over to Tyler’s side. “Are you OK?” she cried out.
“I can’t move my arm,” replied Tyler, who was splayed on the asphalt, his right arm outstretched.
The 35-second video of the hit and run was posted on YouTube on Friday and had more than 216,000 views, as of mid-afternoon on Tuesday.
It was also picked up Sunday by WorldStarHipHop.com, where it has been viewed nearly 292,000 times and generated 2,073 comments.
‘I completely changed my life’
Timothy Tyler, 23, of Saint John, says he can’t work at his snow removal/landscaping job after his shoulder was dislocated in the hit and run. (Facebook)
Tyler was taken to the hospital, where he underwent X-rays. He says he has to keep his arm in a sling, go for physiotherapy and consult a surgeon in March.
“I can’t sleep because of the pain and I can’t take nothing for the pain because I used to be an addict,” he said. “I was on methadone for four years and I’ve been off methadone for a year and a half, so I don’t want to do nothing to relapse.”
Tyler said he got hooked on Dilaudid, which he was prescribed after he was stabbed multiple times outside a party on Cedar Street in the city’s north end in 2012.
“I almost died before and my mom thought I was dead this time,” he said.
“The last two years, I completely changed my life,” said Tyler, who spent time in jail for a variety of drug, weapons and violence offences.
“I haven’t been getting into trouble,” he said, crediting “a lot of thinking,” and getting his priorities straight.
“I’m trying to spend time with my mom and work and have a kid on the way” in two months.
Gene Williams, who was arrested about a half hour after the incident, pleaded guilty on Feb. 24 to assault with a weapon, dangerous driving and leaving the scene of an accident.
Williams also pleaded guilty to two outstanding charges stemming from a domestic violence incident on Aug. 22, 2016 — assaulting a woman and resisting arrest.
He remains remanded in custody until his sentencing hearing, scheduled for April 10 at 9:30 a.m. Tyler says he plans to submit a victim impact statement for the judge’s consideration.
Williams’ lawyer, David Lutz, declined to comment.