BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Leaving his mother’s house the morning of June 23, Abel Almanza was in a mood.
He said he’d been experiencing anger issues recently, and those issues caused him to drive aggressively. On that morning, a perceived slight from another driver prompted him to speed after the car for miles, until the other vehicle ended up in a canal, Almanza told police according to court documents.
Witnesses said Almanza rammed the other vehicle. The documents say Almanza provided conflicting statements about what happened, first saying he was unable to stop in time when his Ford Expedition ran into the Chrysler 300. Later, he told police he didn’t hit the car, which was occupied by the driver and a passenger, both of whom were uninjured.
Almanza, 35, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and has a preliminary hearing scheduled next week.
Police said Almanza and the other driver became involved in a road rage incident as they traveled south on Highway 99 in the area of Ming Avenue. The other driver told investigators Almanza became “extremely mad” when he didn’t allow Almanza to enter his lane.
Almanza rolled down his window and shouted profanities at him, the driver said, then continued to follow him and refused to let him get off at the White Lane exit. The driver told investigators he managed to briefly get some distance from Almanza’s SUV and exited the freeway at the Hosking Avenue off-ramp. Almanza followed him.
As the driver of the Chevy tried to turn south onto South H Street, Almanza hit the car, knocking it across traffic lanes and into the canal, the other driver and witnesses said in the documents. Almanza stopped to ask if there were children in the car, then left.
About 30 minutes later, Almanza flagged down an officer and said he had been involved in a crash, according to the documents. He told police about his anger issues and said he became upset when the other driver cut him off and “brake checked” him.
In 2007, Almanza pleaded no contest to carjacking, according to court records. Four other felonies were dismissed.