A single post on a community bulletin board of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA-CSRA) has disturbed, confused and baffled thousands of people throughout the Augusta area this week.
Some are terrified. Some are alarmed. And some are wondering what really happened.
Greg S., a former investigator with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, posted on The Austin Rhodes Show Facebook page, “Too many questions unanswered. Not ready to jump on this band wagon yet.”
“I’m with Greg,” Pat J. commented. “Something smells here, too many questions not asked and answered. NUFF said.”
By Monday morning, more and more people were questioning the woman’s account of what happened to her husband.
“I’m throwing the B.S. flag on this one,” Steve E. wrote on The Austin Rhodes Show Facebook page. “Don’t believe everything that you read.”
“As my dad used to say, something about this just doesn’t pass the smell test,” Kim B. stated.
“So what the f*** is in season in SC right now that would bring hunters in to the woods anyways?” KJ wrote. “I don’t carry in the woods, but I couldn’t blame a rider for doing it. Especially if he/she is riding alone.”
Speculation continued much of the morning until the McCormick County Sheriff’s Office released the incident report filed by the alleged victim.
The cyclist from Lexington, S.C., told deputies that he was alone biking in the woods around 9 p.m. on Saturday night when all of a sudden he was knocked off his bike by a rope of some kind that was stretched out between two trees.
The cyclist said he “must have hit his head on something” because when he was finally able to open his eyes, there were three men that were assaulting him. He told the deputy that one of the men was attempting to take his shorts off to sexually assault him, while the other two were “waiting their turn.”
The alleged victim then said he reached up to elbow the unknown subject in the face and ran away.
As he was trying to get away, the cyclist told deputies that one of the suspects shot at him.
In order to protect himself, the incident reports states the man “shot back with a 40 Glock that he had in his possession.”
The deputy asked if the Lexington, S.C., man needed medical attention, but he refused. He was also offered a ride in the deputy’s car back to his own vehicle, but the cyclist again refused.
The incident report states the cyclist decided to walk back on his own because “he had urinated on himself and he did not want to get (the officer’s) seats wet.”
When they arrived back at the man’s vehicle, the cyclist requested that the deputy “contact bloodhounds and helicopters and go back into the woods to find the unknown subjects” and retrieve his bike.
But the officer said that it was too dark in the woods to return and the county did not have the manpower or resources to perform such a search at that time.
The cyclist told the deputy that he did not know what the subjects looked like, only that “they were wearing camouflage and had part of their faces covered, but could tell that they were white.”
The deputy again offered the cyclist medical attention, but he refused.
Instead, he called his wife and told her what had happened and informed the deputy that his family was driving from Lexington County to pick him up.
As a result, the deputy drove the cyclist to the 88 Mart in Clarks Hill to wait for his family to arrive.
In the end, the incident report seemed to create more questions than provide answers for many people throughout the community.
Why was the cyclist alone on the trail after dark? How could he possibly be knocked off his bike by a rope stretched between two trees and not be seriously injured?
The woman claiming she was his wife on the SORBA bulletin board said the attackers were “slamming his head into the dirt, which eventually ripped off his helmet.”
That detail did not make it into the incident report.
What were three men dressed in full camouflage hunting in late July?
Even the McCormick County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed this week that there is no hunting season currently open.
The incident report states that the victim was carrying a .40 Glock with him while cycling. That’s a large caliber gun. Where was the cyclist carrying that gun? When he was thrown from his bike and temporarily knocked out, how was able to reach the gun?
Especially considering one of the attackers was allegedly attempting to take his shorts off.
Perhaps he was wearing a fanny pack, where he could have possibly had his gun, phone and wallet right by his waist.
But there are still a lot of unanswered questions that have even members of the local law enforcement questioning the alleged attack.
“Would you go riding on the trail at 9 p.m.?” asked one McCormick County deputy, who did not wished to be named in the story.
The McCormick County Sheriff’s Office announced on Tuesday that it, along with the forestry department, hadn’t found much evidence relating to the alleged attack along the biking trail.
In fact, they had found only one spent shell casing.
The only person who can really fill in the blanks as to what happened this past Saturday night is the alleged victim.
The Metro Spirit attempted to reach the cyclist from Lexington, S.C., whose name was redacted from a sheriff’s office incident report, on several occasions following the alleged attack.
The cyclist did not return any of the Metro Spirit’s phone calls and, when a reporter drove to his home in Lexington, S.C., earlier this week, no one answered the door.
Meanwhile, the entire Augusta area is left wondering: What really happened in the wooded trails in McCormick County? Are there “Deliverance”-like hillbillies waiting in the woods? Or has someone just been watching too many movies?
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