HAZLE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Gunfire on a local interstate and now one man is jailed and another is recovering from a bullet wound.
State police say it is the end result of a road rage incident. Investigators say the victim, a truck driver, could have been killed. They say this incident should serve as a warning to all drivers: beware of aggressive drivers.
State troopers say the road rage incident happened in the area of mile marker 140 on Interstate 81 North near Hazleton. Investigators say 26-year-old James Leiphart was driving a tractor-trailer. His brother was following behind the big rig in a car.
At some point, troopers say, 56-year-old Kenneth Kuras started to tailgate the tractor-trailer and kept flashing his lights and beeping the horn. This in an attempt to have Leiphart move over. Leiphart tells troopers he did move to the right and that’s when Kuras’ vehicle got alongside.
He says he saw a flash of light coming from Kuras’ Jeep, felt a pain in his right ankle and realized he was shot. Kuras pulled over several miles away and called 911. Leiphart also pulled over a few moments later. Kuras told police that Leiphart was trying to force him off the road. He stated: “I fired low. I wasn’t trying to kill him or anything.”
State troopers say these kinds of situations can be tough to avoid. While the investigation into this incident continues, trooper David Peters offers up this general advice: “You want to learn how to drive defensively. You know remove yourself from those type of situations.”
And he also advises: “Don’t make contact with the individual that’s passing you. Don’t make any obscene gestures toward them, any type of actions of those sort. That usually enflames that.”
Leiphart was treated and released at a hospital. A district judge denied bail for Kuras. He will have a hearing on November 27th. He faces 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted on charges which included aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.