Police probe fatal road rage incident
By Jon Murray and Tom Spalding
August 8, 2003
A cab driver involved in a fatal road rage encounter with a motorcyclist was suspended from work Friday as a police investigation continued.
Richard Harvath, 43, a contract driver for Yellow Cab, has not been charged in the death of Singh "David" Biring Harinder, 36, who suffered severe head injuries after he was thrown from his motorcycle in the Eastside crash Thursday afternoon.
Yellow Cab on Friday issued a statement expressing its condolences to Biring's family. The company has suspended Harvath pending an investigation, said Yellow Cab operations manager Tim Neville.
Road-rage incidents in Marion County aren't new, but most don't end as violently.
Indianapolis police said the two vehicles were positioned single-file at a traffic light on Massachusetts near 38th Street when Harvath honked at Biring's motorcycle. Biring, who was in front of the cab, made an obscene gesture and continued west on two-lane Massachusetts Avenue. The cab then tail-gated the bike.
Police say Harvath's taxi passed Biring, then braked in front of the motorcycle, and Biring lost control as he tried to stop.
He was thrown into oncoming traffic and hit by a Pontiac sedan traveling in the opposite direction. Biring, who was not wearing a helmet, died at Methodist Hospital.
Investigators stopped questioning Harvath at the scene when he asked to speak to an attorney.
Nationwide, 13,000 people have died or been injured in crashes triggered by aggressive drivers since 1990 in the most recent statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Indianapolis police don't track accidents caused by road rage, but do chronicle severe cases. Last month, IPD reported that two men, Michael P. Birt, 36, and Tyrone Jones, 25, shot each other after one did not pull away quickly enough from a green light. The men stopped, got out of their vehicles and argued before the shootings.
Sgt. Steve Staletovich of the Indianapolis Police Department said he could not recall any similar road-rage fatalities.
"They are pretty rare," he said Friday. "The ones we don't know about are the near misses. It's one thing to have some kind of face-to-face altercation. But when you surround an attitude with 3,000 pounds of metal, people can get killed."
Leon James, a professor who studies traffic psychology at the University of Hawaii, said he calls incidents like the one alleged in this case a "road-rage duel."
"One of them could have backed out," James said. "At each point they have to make a decision of whether to go on or not."
Neville said Harvath, like all the company's drivers, leased his taxi from the company but worked on a contract basis, not as an employee. He could not say how long Harvath had been under contract.
"That's all part of our investigation," Neville said.
Friends were mourning the long-haired roofer and calling the tragedy senseless.
Harvath, of the 2000 block of Amerherst Drive, has no traffic tickets on his Indiana driving record, said Media Trent, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
He has had an Indiana driver's license since 1996 and a chauffeur's license since 1999.
The Marion County prosecutor's office will be involved but hasn't been formally presented with the case.