A clash between a pack of motorcyclists and a Range Rover on a Manhattan highway — which triggered a harrowing chase caught on a viral video — has left one biker facing charges and a second in critical condition.
Edwin "Jay" Mieses, 32, could be paralyzed after being run over during the chaos, a relative said.
“He was an innocent bystander,” Mieses’ aunt, Delilah Domenech, told NBC News on Tuesday, saying her nephew was checking on another motorcyclist when he was struck by the panicked motorist.
A third biker involved in the incident, who was sought by the NYPD after being caught on camera punching the window of the Range Rover, turned himself in on Tuesday, sources told NBC New York.
The violent scene unfolded Sunday afternoon when up to 30 motorcyclists taking part in an unauthorized daredevil rally called Hollywood Stuntz took to the West Side Highway.
Video taken by a helmet camera shows the pack zooming around the the Range Rover of Alexian Lien, 33, who was out for a drive with his wife and 2-year-old daughter, police said.
One biker, identified by police as Christopher Cruz, 23, of New Jersey, slowed down right in front of the SUV and gestured at Lien, who clipped the motorcycle, the video shows.
Courtesy Delilah Domenech
Jay Mieses' family says he may be paralyzed from the waist down after being injured Sunday during a clash between bikers and a Range Rover in Manhattan
The group of riders then surrounded Lien's vehicle.
"They take their helmets and start to dent his car, and apparently his tires are slashed there with a knife," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
Mieses, who lives in Lawrence, Mass., can be seen on the video getting off his green bike to check on Cruz, his aunt said. He was standing near the SUV when Lien suddenly took off and ran over him, she said.
Police said Mieses suffered two broken legs, but family members said his injuries were far more severe and include a torn aorta, broken ribs and spinal damage that will probably leave him paralyzed.
“He damaged my son’s life forever," his mother, Yolando Santiago, told NBC affiliate WHDH. "He is never going to walk again."
After Lien took off, other members of the crew forced him on a harrowing chase. They cornered him at one point and managed to yank open his door, but he gunned it and sped away again, the video posted on You Tube shows.
After a 50-block northbound pursuit, he got off the highway and stopped on a side street in upper Manhattan, where video shows one motorcyclist smashing in the window with a helmet.
Police said the gang pulled Lien out of the car and assaulted him in front of his wife and child, slashing his face and chest. He was treated and released from Columbia University Medical Center.
Christopher Cruz slows his motorcycle down in front of a Range Rover on Mahattan's West Side Highway on Sunday, Sept. 29, in this image from a video posted on YouTube. Cruz has been arrested by police after his clash with the Range Rover triggered a wild chase and beating by a pack of fellow bikers bent on revenge.
Cruz, who was also injured, was charged with reckless endangerment, reckless driving, and endangering the welfare of a child for his actions on the road, officials told NBC New York.
Police said the investigation is continuing and they are still looking for up to 30 bikers.
Domenech said her family is upset that most of the attention from the incident is focused on Lien and not her nephew, a married father of a 10-year-old and a 14-year-old.
"This man with a Range Rover and luxury lifestyle — it's OK for him to do something to someone because he rides a bike or has tattoos?" she said.
She said she didn't know if the driver should be charged.
"But it should be acknowledged that what he did was wrong," she said. "He had many other options but he chose the violent one."
Asked whether Lien was within his legal rights to leave the scene of the intial accident, Kelly said, "It depends on what the circumstances are."
"It depends on whether or not your vehicle is being attacked, whether or not you think you’re being attacked, whether or not your wife and child are in the car. You have to look at the totality of the circumstances and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.
"Obviously, if you can get out of there without hurting someone, that’s what we advise you to do," he added. "There’s no one-size-fits-all to a situation like this."
Kelly said the bikers did not have a permit for the rally and the NYPD only learned of the gathering — in its second year — through social media.
He said police had fanned out around Manhattan to watch for trouble, arresting 15 bikers and confiscating 55 motorcycles unrelated to the attack on the Range Rover.
First published October 1 2013, 7:33 AM