WEST ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV.com) – Two Parkway South High School students are being hailed heroes by their local police chief after they intervened in a violent road rage incident in late October.
A 73-year-old man is facing charges, accused of running over another man in act of road rage on the parking lot of Parkway South High School.
Jose Vazquez and Jaliyah Conner were leaving school around 3:20 p.m. when they noticed a commotion in the school parking lot.
“I was walking over to my car and when I turned I saw one man in his car and another man outside the car filming with his phone,” said Vazquez. “I yelled repeatedly ‘Stop! Sir stop! Get away from each other!’ and it led to them separating for a couple of seconds.”
But seconds later, Vazquez said the man behind the wheel threatened to run over the man outside his car if he stepped in front of it. The victim did, according to Vazquez and was run over.
“The man in the vehicle ran him over once, then drove around the parking lot for a second time, completely over his ribs and was going to do so a third time before me and his wife jumped into action and stopped the car.”
Moments before, Conner said she was getting into the car with her mom and was about to leave the parking lot when she noticed Vazquez and the two men yelling.
“I heard like arguments and everything like that,” she said. “I didn’t want to get involved because it’s none of my business. I don’t know what’s going on.”
As her mom called 911, Conner said she waited to see what might happen.
“That’s when I heard someone say, ‘He just got ran over,'” she said. “So I got out of the car and that’s when I watched him speed up a little bit and run him over. I heard a crunch and that’s when I was like, ‘I have to get involved.”
Conner said she rushed to the victim’s aid, while keeping an eye on the suspect out of the corner of her eye. The 72-year-old victim suffered a shattered pelvis, broken ribs and several other serious injuries, according to police.
“He kept it hidden but he was terrified, he didn’t want to open his eyes, he wanted to keep his eyes closed,” said Conner. “I told him he couldn’t do that and he held onto me and Jose’s hand the entire time.”
Vazquez said when the suspect came around for a potential third strike against the victim, he screamed and pleaded for him to stop.
Police said the suspect, identified as 73-year-old Michael Gallagher, then got out of his car and forcefully took the victim’s wife’s cell phone from her hand, leaving her with a wrist injury. He was arrested less than a mile from the school shortly after the incident. He is charged with first-degree assault, second-degree robbery and armed criminal action.
Police said the incident started nearby on Manchester Road when the victim cut the Gallagher off in traffic. The victim then drove nearly a mile to the school parking lot in an attempt to get Gallagher to stop following him. Manchester Police Chief Scott Will said while intervening in a road rage situation can be dangerous, the two students were heroic in their efforts.
“If it was not but for them, I really believe this man could have been much more seriously injured if not killed,” he said.
Will recommends if you are being followed, the best thing to do is drive to the nearest police station. If you aren’t sure where to go, call 911 and let them know of the situation and an officer will find you.
Both students said they are still processing what they witnessed in their school parking lot.
“I did not think he was going to run over him a second time at all,” said Vazquez. “It was unbelievable, I even saw him go around the parking lot to get momentum to hit him a second time.”