By Margie Wuebker
Charges could be filed later today in connection with an apparent incident of road rage involving an SUV and a John Deere combine.
Mercer County Sheriff's deputies responded to Riley Road, north of Oldtown Road, at 3:15 p.m. Sunday on reports of a man pointing a loaded weapon at a motorist.
The 34-year-old Celina motorist told deputies he was forced to drive his 1998 Mercury Mountaineer into the side ditch to avoid hitting the farm vehicle. He claimed the left front combine tire was left of center at the time.
The motorist reportedly turned around, passed the combine again and stopped in the roadway approximately 100 feet in front of the combine. The man got out of the vehicle leaving his wife and two children inside and began yelling at the 70-year-old farmer to pull over for traffic.
The men apparently traded gestures, with the motorist climbing the steps to the cab and opening the combine door while continuing his verbal rebuke. He claimed the farmer pointed the pistol at him in a threatening manner. The older man, who told deputies he felt threatened by the irate intruder, warned he had protection and displayed a holstered 9-mm semiautomatic pistol on his lap. The motorist grabbed the gun and threw it into a nearby clover field.
Deputies determined the older man did have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The gun, along with a magazine containing eight rounds of ammunition, was located and taken into evidence.
"People need to be aware farmers are taking crops off and their equipment is legal to be on the road," Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey said. "Motorists have to be extremely cautious when encountering large equipment and agricultural people have to be courteous as well."
The farmer involved in the incident told authorities he could only drive the combine over so far for fear of losing control in the event it went into the side ditch.
The case has been referred to the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office for review and possible filing of charges.