Local News

Man hit by car in road rage incident apparently saved his girlfriend

— A man, who authorities say was hit by another vehicle after a road rage incident, apparently saved his girlfriend from being struck by the driver, according to a report released Monday.

Thomas Gerald Watson, 54, 658 Raccoon Lane, Lorida, the man accused of striking the other driver with his vehicle, was arrested by the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office Saturday and charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder and two counts of felony assault.

An arrest report and information from the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office allege that following a road rage incident, which is not detailed in the report, Watson followed a vehicle driven by Shawn Ziegler, with Carrie Leaphart, who was his passenger.

After Ziegler pulled into a parking lot, Watson continued heading toward the vehicle, the reports said. Ziegler and Leaphart got out of the vehicle just before it was struck, officials said.

Watson then is accused of setting his sights on Ziegler and Leaphart, who were on foot, and striking Ziegler with his vehicle, the reports said.

“The male victim had to be airlifted to Lakeland Regional Medical Center for immediate medical treatment for life threatening injuries,” the report said. “The female victim was only saved from being hit by the vehicle because she was pushed from the line of impact by the male victim.”

The report said that Watson then went home, where he was subsequently arrested many hours later. His wife reported that Watson told her that he had struck a vehicle, but that no one was injured.

He remains in Highlands County Jail on no bail for one of the charges.


(863) 386-5834