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Tanker Driver 'Panicked' When He Saw Protesters

Authorities say they don't believe Bogdan Vechirko intended to run down crowd
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2020 2:35 PM CDT

(Newser) – A tanker truck driver who drove into a crowd of protesters on I-35 in Minneapolis Sunday was confused, not homicidal, according to state authorities. State Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington says driver Bogdan Vechirko apparently failed to realize the road was closed and did not go around any barricades before reaching the bridge, where he drove into a crowd of thousands of protesters, Star Tribune reports. "He saw the crowd initially and he panicked," Harrington says. The commissioner says Vechirko—who had been speeding—told investigators he hit the brakes after seeing a woman on a bike fall down in front of him.

Vechirko, 35, was pulled from the truck by protesters, and Fox9 reports some began to beat him. But other protesters apparently intervened to protect the driver until police arrived. The network points to a video that captures someone saying, "We cannot hurt him. It defeats our purpose." Vechirko was arrested on suspicion of assault and is being held in the Hennepin County Jail. No serious injuries were reported among protesters, who had been marching on the bridge to protest the death of George Floyd. Insider reports that records show Vechirko has a relatively clean driving record in Minnesota, with one conviction for a seat belt violation in 2009. (Read more Minneapolis stories.)

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