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Road-rage suspect found dead of apparent suicide off Lakeville Highway

A driver from Marin County suspected of ramming a cyclist during what authorities said appeared to be a road-rage encounter has died in a possible suicide.

Mark Rafferty, 62, of Bolinas was found Wednesday morning in a car off Lakeville Highway southeast of Petaluma, officials said. A vineyard worker found the body at about 7 a.m. Wednesday and called 911.

CHP Officer Andrew Barclay confirmed that Rafferty was the same individual officers had arrested Monday following the road-rage incident.

Rafferty had been released on bail after he was booked into the Marin County Jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon stemming from the Monday afternoon encounter.

The incident with the cyclist occurred at about 1 p.m. Monday on Point Reyes-Petaluma Road near the Nicasio Reservoir, a popular cycling route.

Two cyclists were riding on a wide shoulder when one pedaled into the lane to take a photograph of his cycling partner, apparently blocking the path of Rafferty, who was coming up from behind in a green sedan, Barclay said.

Rafferty pulled over, got out and began yelling at the cyclist, San Francisco resident Charles Keane-Zirepolo, 25, the CHP said.

Keane-Zirepolo did not stop, displaying an “obscene hand gesture” as he passed Rafferty, then pedaled ahead to catch up with his cycling mate, according to the CHP.

Rafferty then got back into his car and accelerated toward Keane-Zirepolo, who at that point was cycling on the right-hand shoulder, CHP officials said.

Rafferty drove into the rear wheel of Keane-Zirepolo’s bike, crushing the wheel and throwing the rider from the bike onto a dirt hillside, Barclay said.

Rafferty drove away, heading east on Point Reyes-Petaluma Road, but then turned around and drove back to the scene, where he was arrested after officers interviewed the parties involved, the CHP said.

He was found in his car two days later, about 25 miles away in a vineyard off Lakeville Highway.

Rafferty’s death is under investigation by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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