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Santa Rosa cyclist recounts painful encounter with road rage

  • Orthopedics nurse Casey Singer removes an IV from Toraj Soltani's arm in preparation for his discharge from Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital on Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. Soltani suffered various injuries after being run down by a motorist while riding his bike in Oakmont on Thursday. (Christopher Chung / PD)

Even from his hospital bed a day removed from the crash, Toraj Soltani cannot make sense of it, why a motorist would chase him on his bicycle for two blocks and then far down a golf course fairway to intentionally run him down.

“I have recounted it so many times. It seems like make-believe; it doesn't sound like it could happen,” said Soltani, 47, of Santa Rosa.

The experienced cyclist was hit from behind Thursday on a cart path at the Oakmont golf course by a car he had gone great lengths to evade.

“I don't think that you can ever make sense of something like this,” Soltani said. “I really hope they find him.”

The crash, which occurred at 5:15 p.m., left Soltani with a broken wrist and serious road rash on his arms, left wrist and buttocks.

Santa Rosa police are looking for a man that Soltani described as in his 70s with white hair. He described the car as a beige or gold sedan, possibly a Toyota Camry or Buick.

Sgt. Rich Celli said the violent crimes division is investigating the crime as an assault with a deadly weapon.

“We are actively working to find the driver. We are hoping for the public's help,” Celli said.

“Unbelievable,” said Celli, who knows Soltani well.

The incident is among the many recent serious collisions between vehicles and cyclists, with five cyclists killed since May, and part of a growing number of unpleasant encounters between motorists and cyclists.

“This is such bizarre case. It illustrates what many cyclists have been saying — that there is this overt dislike and aggression toward cyclists,” Soltani said. “Maybe this is weird enough it will cause people to think differently.”

Soltani runs Mac's Delicatessen in Santa Rosa, the family business his father, Iraj Soltani, bought in 1968. He described the crash from his Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital bed Friday evening, his left wrist held up in a sling.

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