Two men charged in a wild freeway feud in Massachusetts, in which one took a hair-raising ride on the hood of the other's car, were arraigned in court Monday and blamed one another for turning a minor fender bender into a dangerous road-rage confrontation.
Richard Kamrowski, 65, and Mark Fitzgerald, 37, both pleaded not guilty in separate arraignments to charges stemming from a Massachusetts Turnpike conflict partly caught on a cellphone video that has gone viral.
Kamrowski and Fitzgerald were ordered by a district court judge in Waltham, Massachusetts, to stay away from each other, according to ABC affiliate station WCVB-TV in Boston.
Fitzgerald was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and leaving the scene of a property damage accident. Judge Sarah Ellis revoked his driver's license on Monday and ordered him to post $500 cash bail before he was released.
Kamrowski pleaded not guilty to disorderly conduct and malicious damage to a motor vehicle. He was allowed to leave the court on his own recognizance.
Kamrowski and Fitzgerald were ordered to return on March 13 for a pre-trial conference.
Massachusetts State Police said the men had gotten into a minor sideswipe accident near the Boston suburb of Weston about 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
Following the crash, Kamrowski of Framingham stopped in the left lane and got out of his Ford F-150 pickup truck to trade insurance information with Fitzgerald, according to police. Fitzgerald of Ashland, Massachusetts, stayed inside his white 2016 Infinity QX70 SUV, authorities said.
The two men exchanged heated words and at some point Kamrowski reached into Fitzgerald's vehicle and snatched a metal water container and stood in front of Fitzgerald's SUV, police said.
When Fitzgerald began to drive forward, Kamrowski jumped on the hood of his car, police said. Fitzgerald allegedly accelerated, hitting speeds of up to 70 mph in the three-mile ride with Kamrowski on his hood.
Kamrowski, according to police, broke the windshield with the water bottle he took from Fitzgerald's vehicle. When Fitzgerald eventually got bogged down in traffic, a motorist with a permit to carry a concealed weapon approached him and ordered him out of the SUV at gunpoint just as troopers arrived on the scene, according to the police statement.
The armed motorist was not charged.
Following the incident, Kamrowski told reporters he was only trying to get Fitzgerald to stay at the scene when he began to drive away.
"He was propelled onto the hood and while he was on the hood he was trying to get the car to stop and that was the first time he struck the vehicle with the water bottle," Kamrowski's attorney, Joe Comenzo, told reporters Monday. "As he sped up, my client held on for dear life."
Fitzgerald's attorney, Michael Chinman, countered that Kamrowski was the aggressor and that he feared for his life.
"The other party aggressively approached my client, first at his driver's window where he attacked him, and then when my client was able to shut the driver's window, he went around to the passenger side," Chinman said during the court hearing.
He said Fitzgerald had no choice but to try to the leave the scene.
"If someone was attacking me, if someone smashed my windshield, had already tried to attack me from both sides of my car, I think my first thought would be, 'Let's get out of here,'" Chinman said. "I think everybody reasonably acts to protect their own safety. I was astonished that a man would jump onto the hood of a moving car when there was, by all accounts, extremely minor contact between the cars prior to that."
Comenzo denied that Kamrowski attacked Fitzgerald.
"We're confident that as the facts are revealed and the witnesses and more footage come forward, it will be clear that Mr. Kamrowski was standing in front of the car, had not done anything aggressive," Comenzo said.