AFTON, Minn. (KMSP) - Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins was roller skiing in her hometown of Afton, Minnesota Sunday morning when she says an aggressive driver nearly ran her off the road.
“It was the most incredible display of aggressive bullying and ‘I’m bigger than you and I’m in an SUV so I’m going to harass you’ that I’ve ever seen in a person,” Diggins said in a blog post.
Diggins said she and her former high school coach Kris Hansen were out on a long ski on Sunday when they heard a car coming. They moved to the far right of the road and skied single file, but the Ford Explorer “buzzed us so close I was rocked sideways from the wind.”
The driver slowed to a stop. When Diggins and Hansen tried to ski by him, he continued driving on the right side of the road, forcing the duo to ski in the middle of the road. Diggins said when they would speed up, he also sped up and when they slowed down, he came to a stop and blocked them from getting back to the side of the road.
“I knocked on the window a few times shouting that he was going to get us killed and he flipped me the finger and turned the music up,” she said.
When Hansen pulled out her phone to take a photo of the SUV’s license plate, the driver sped up and took off. Diggins wrote the license plate number in the dirt to remember it and called the police.
According to the incident report from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Diggins told the responding deputy she felt the man had plenty of room to drive around them while they were skiing.
The responding deputy talked to the wife of the driver, who said this was out of his character. The deputy tried calling the driver several times and eventually did speak to the driver.
“Diggins just wanted me to make him aware of her concern,” the deputy wrote in the incident report.
The case is being forwarded to the Afton City Attorney for a charging consideration, the Washington County Sheriff's Office told Fox 9.
Diggins wrote on her blog the experience “made me feel sick inside.”
“If that guy had been six inches closer to us, we would be in the hospital or dead,” she said. “If a car had come over the top of the hill while he was pushing us to the middle of the road, we’d also be in the hospital or dead.”
The sheriff’s office told Diggins if they hear about the same driver harassing people again, they can take additional action.
“I think sometimes aggressive drivers don’t realize if they ‘just tap’ a person on the road to ‘teach them a lesson’, they could become a murderer right then and there,” Diggins said.
Diggins advised fellow roller skiers to stay “safe and smart” on the road by skiing single file, being mindful of cars and using common sense.