Rayshawn Neely, a PG&E lineman and 3-year member of IBEW Local 1245, was injured on Feb. 1 in a bizarre vehicle attack that law enforcement officials are calling intentional.
The incident occurred about 2:30 pm at Marks and McKinley Avenues in West Central Fresno. The driver of the vehicle involved in the attack, an Oldsmobile, was identified by the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office as Jett Simmons Mcbride of Tacoma, WA.
In the seconds before the car struck, GC Lineman Ken Simon became aware of the danger and attempted to pull Neely out of the way. But Simon, a 6-year IBEW member, was struck by the car and catapulted several feet away as the car plowed into Neely and pinned him against his PG&E truck.
It was later reported by a hitchhiker riding in the Oldsmobile that Mcbride had claimed to be Jesus Christ just before swerving toward the PG&E truck.
After the collision, Mcbride tried to get out of the car, but one of the other PG&E workers kept shutting the door on him, according to Local 1245 Business Representative Mark Rolow. Rolow, who arrived at the scene about an hour later while witnesses were still present and also participated in a follow-up investigation by PG&E the day after the incident, offered this account of what happened next:
“The driver is a big guy. He gets out of the car. Rayshawn is laying across the hood. The driver is reaching across and says ‘I’m Jesus Christ and I’m here to save you. A couple of ladies come running over and try to restrain the driver from pulling on Rayshawn, and then he attacks the ladies.”
The hitchhiker then jumped out of the car with a hatchet and “starts whacking the driver’s skull,” said Rolow. That stops the driver from beating on Neely and the female good Samaritans, but then the gathering crowd surrounds the hitchhiker, “not sure how he fits into the scene.”
The driver apparently managed to renew his assault on Neely, despite having been whacked in the head multiple times by the ax-wielding hitchhiker. At this point, Rolow said, other PG&E crew members were able to “jump on him and rassle him to the ground.”
The scene grew even more bizarre when the driver stripped himself completely naked and lay squirming on the ground, restrained by a PG&E apprentice who by this time was sitting on him.
Eventually the fire department arrived and jacked up the bucket truck and pulled the car out, releasing Neely.
One of the women who had tried to come to Neely’s assistance said that Mcbride has used racial epithets, suggesting the attack was racially motivated.
Neely was transported to the hospital, where he underwent surgery for a broken leg. Rolow has remained in touch with Brother Neely and said he appeared to be in reasonably good spirits on Monday, despite his ordeal. Rolow praised the other crew members for acting swiftly to keep a bad situation from becoming worse.
“There was another crew working nearby, so there were several members on the scene. The guys did a great job. Each person picked up a portion of the rescue,” Rolow said.
See a YouTube video of the incident here: youtube.com/watch?v=zalqLeniyj0