By Margie Wuebker
A 34-year-old Celina man has been charged with menacing in connection with an apparent case of road rage involving drivers of a SUV and a John Deere combine.
David P. Rinderle Jr., 34, 8075 Old Town Road, is scheduled to appear in Celina Municipal Court on Nov. 5. Arraignment on the fourth-degree misdemeanor charge is set for 9 a.m.
Mercer County Sheriff's deputies responded to Riley Road, north of Oldtown Road, at 3:15 p.m. Oct. 10 on reports of a man drawing a loaded weapon at a motorist.
Rinderle told deputies he was forced to drive his 1998 Mercury Mountaineer into the side ditch to avoid hitting the farm vehicle. He claimed the combine's left front 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 get the combine over for traffic, according to sheriff's office reports. The men apparently traded gestures, with the motorist climbing the steps to the cab and opening the door while continuing his verbal rebuke. He claimed the unidentified farmer pointed the pistol at him in a threatening manner.
The older man, who told deputies he felt threatened by the irate intruder, warned Rinderle he had protection and displayed a holstered 9-mm semiautomatic pistol on his lap. The motorist reportedly 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.
The farmer told authorities he could only get over so far, fearing he would lose control of the combine in the event it went into the side ditch.
The case was referred to the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office, which returned the charge against Rinderle. The paperwork was served over the weekend.
If convicted, he faces a maximum $250 fine.