August 8 2013
– An apparent case of road rage that involved speeds of higher than 85 mph on U.S. Highway 93 ended in felony criminal endangerment charges against two Hamilton residents.
Andrea Jeanne Bunnell, 37, and Robert Wayne McCoy, 40, appeared before Ravalli County Justice of the Peace Jim Bailey Wednesday.
Bailey set bail for both at $25,000.
Court records said the Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office received a report on July 24 that a woman saw a white station wagon change lanes twice while almost striking a black motorcycle as it traveled northbound on Highway 93.
The witness then saw the motorcycle driver pull up alongside the station wagon and make an obscene gesture at its driver.
After the station wagon appeared to swerve toward the motorcycle, its rider accelerated and split lanes between two vehicles in what the witness believed to be an attempt to get away from the station wagon.
A couple of minutes later, Sheriff’s Detective Dave Potter was accelerating on the highway northbound, after being stopped at the traffic signal at Woodside Cutoff Road, when a station wagon passed him at a high rate of speed.
The station wagon was being chased by a black motorcycle at that time.
Potter saw the two vehicles put other drivers at risk by tailgating, passing traffic over double yellow lines, passing in between vehicles and passing vehicles on the right side of the road.
Potter turned on his emergency lights and sirens and began pursuit, but couldn’t maintain the chase due to the high speed the vehicles were traveling.
The vehicles were speeding well in excess of 85 mph, court records said.
Later that evening, a Montana Highway Patrol trooper confronted Bunnell at Mission Bistro in Stevensville, where she is employed. She initially denied the incident, but court records said she later told her probation officer that she had lied to the law enforcement officers who had questioned her.
Bunnell is currently on felony probation.
McCoy also denied speeding or driving erratically when questioned. He did admit that he did not have a valid motorcycle endorsement on the day he operated the motorcycle, court records said.
At the time of the incident, McCoy was out on bail awaiting a September trial on drug charges.
McCoy was arrested last September after Hamilton police allegedly found more than twice the legal amount of marijuana allowed to a medical marijuana provider at McCoy’s home. The search followed the police detainment of McCoy’s daughter, who allegedly distributed marijuana-laced candy on a school bus.
In addition to the felony criminal endangerment charge in this most recent case, McCoy also faces misdemeanor counts of obstructing a police officer, fleeing from a police officer and driving while license is suspended or revoked.
Besides the felony count, Bunnell was charged with misdemeanor obstructing a police officer and fleeing from a police officer.
– Perry Backus