Cool heads prevail in road rage incident
Jason Pollard, a quick thinking operator for Connecticut Transit (CTTRANSIT), Hartford, CT, and a team of supervisors faced a bizarre scene an agency could never anticipate. Deadheading an empty bus to his route start one early morning in late January, Pollard encountered a man and a woman in the breakdown lane running toward him. As she approached, he realized the woman was trying to escape a frenzied attacker.
“I could tell immediately the expression on her face was not like she had just run out of gas,” says Pollard. “I felt if I did not stop something bad would happen.”
He immediately intervened to remove her from harm’s way as her attacker raged on, attempting to ram two separate vehicles into Pollard’s bus.
Pollard says the combination of comprehensive driver training and his own natural instincts just kicked in and allowed him to take control of this surreal situation.
Left: Jason Pollard proved himself unflappable under pressure when he seized the moment in a bizarre series of events.
He stopped to let the distressed woman on as the man she said had abducted her ran toward the bus. Pollard took off, watching in the rearview mirror as he radioed Hartford Operations with his situation and location. He then saw a black vehicle pull up on his left-hand side, race across the highway and stop on the off-ramp to prevent Pollard from exiting.
“I realized this was the woman’s assailant coming after both of us,” he says. “Now we were both in extreme danger.”
The vehicle sped ahead and a few moments later Pollard saw headlights coming back down the interstate directly toward him. He tried to veer out of the way, but the car clipped the front left corner of the bus bumper, spun out of control and ended up in a ditch on the left side of the road. The goon had stolen the car of another good samaritan who had stopped to offer assistance.
Pollard continued to calmly report the events to supervisor Ramonda Tutson back at dispatch and tried to keep the woman on the bus as calm as possible. Tutson instructed Pollard to proceed to Exit 69 where the state police would be waiting.
Not about to give up the chase, the assailant resumed his pursuit, passing the bus on the right-hand side and speeding ahead.
He pulled the car to the left side of the highway just over a hill, made a U-turn and again headed back toward the oncoming bus.
“When I saw those headlights coming at me one more time, I realized this chase was not over,” says Pollard. “All I could do was pull into the breakdown lane to get out of his way.” Pollard says the assailant swerved to avoid a pickup truck, luckily missing him, but crashed into the tractor-trailer traveling directly behind the bus.
At that point, Pollard was able to exit the highway safely and connect with the state police. Troopers took the woman for medical observation.
The assailant survived his crash, but before officers could take him into custody, they first had to extricate him from the stolen car wedged underneath the tractor-trailer.
CTTRANSIT general manager David A. Lee and the entire community commended Pollard on his split-second decision-making and calm demeanor that allowed him to keep a clear head and focus on what he needed to do to reach safety. In fact, Lee created a special General Manager’s Award to honor Pollard, who he says did everything right in a very short period of time.
“This entire sequence of events only lasted nine minutes in real time,” says Pollard. “But it felt like hours.” Lee says Pollard probably saved the woman’s life. Pollard says he was simply doing his job.