A group of motorcyclists surrounded a Range Rover on a New York highway over the weekend, and when one motorcyclist appeared to purposely stop directly in front of the sport utility vehicle, it sparked a wild confrontation and chase that left a Lawrence man injured and two motorcyclists in police custody, according to police and footage of the incident.
Edwin “Jay” Mieses Jr., 32, who was riding one of dozens of motorcycles on the Henry Hudson Parkway Sunday afternoon, sustained two broken legs after apparently being run over by the SUV, police said. He remained in critical condition Tuesday at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City.
The encounter, which drew national attention after a video of the incident was posted on YouTube, unfolded when as many as 30 motorcyclists taking part in an unauthorized rally began circling the Range Rover. The driver of the SUV, identified in news reports as Alexian Lien, 33, of New York was with his wife and toddler.
In the video, it appears that the SUV may have hit the motorcyclist who slowed down. After that, the motorcyclists stopped, and appeared to block the SUV. But the SUV broke through and sped off, with the motorcyclists following. They caught up to the SUV in Washington Heights, where they allegedly slashed the SUV’s tires, used their helmets to break the SUV’s windows, and pulled the driver out, and attacked him.
Lien, who could not be reached, was reportedly taken to a New York hospital and released.
“We don’t have any exact details about what led up to the incident,” said Sergeant Lee Jones, a New York City Police Department spokesman. “The investigation is ongoing.”
Lee said police have not charged the SUV driver, but they did arrest Christopher Cruz, 28, of Passaic, N.J., the motorcyclist who stopped in front of the Range Rover. He was charged with reckless driving, menacing, and endangering the welfare of a child.
Police said Tuesday that another motorcyclist was in custody but had not been charged.
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the motorcyclists were part of a loosely organized group who planned to drive into the heart of the city as they had done last year, effectively paralyzing Times Square, The New York Times reported. Kelly said his department was on alert this year and stopped motorcyclists throughout the city before they could grow into a large throng.
At the Lawrence house where Mieses lives, a woman who answered the door and identified herself as his sister-in-law said, “He’s going to make it.”
Though Mieses is a Massachusetts resident, he has never had a valid Massachusetts driver’s license for a passenger vehicle and has never applied for a motorcycle license, the Registry of Motor Vehicles said.
Registry records show that Mieses applied for a learner’s permit in 1999 and 2000, but that he never obtained a full license because he failed to pay fines imposed after he was ticketed for speeding in Lawrence in 1999. His last contact with the Registry was in 2001, when he obtained an identification card, registry records show.
Since 1999, he has been ticketed by police 16 times, in Lawrence, Methuen, Roxbury, Andover, and New Hampshire, according to registry records.
In June, the Registry notified the National Driver Register that Mieses was a habitual traffic offender whose right to drive in Massachusetts was revoked until 2017, records show.