Carroll police: Rostraver motorist assaults flagger

Rostraver man charged; witness reportedly defended traffic worker

August 8, 2017

A Rostraver Township man is facing charges he assaulted a traffic control flagger by grabbing her wrist and taking her smartphone in June to prevent her from calling police during a road rage incident in a Carroll Township construction zone, court records allege.

Carroll police Tuesday filed a string of misdemeanor charges against Karim Bitar, 37, of 608 Skyline Drive, in connection with a series of incidents June 15 in a construction area where the state Department of Transportation is realigning routes 837 and 88.

“It was road rage, and it got out of control when he got out of the vehicle,” Carroll police Chief Paul Brand said.

Police accuse Bitar of becoming angry when he was stopped in southbound traffic on Route 88 after a flagger allowed a car in front of him to make a right turn into a grocery store parking lot. Bitar thought traffic was moving again and he could continue south on Route 88, but the flagger made him stop. There was an exchange of words after the female flagger stopped his vehicle, police said.

“She said something he didn’t like and then he lost his temper, I guess,” Brand said.

Bitar is accused of speeding off at about 50 mph before he came to the second flagger, Felicia Premich, 21, of Acme, court records indicate.

Premich motioned for Bitar to slow down, saying, “This is not a racetrack,” police noted in the affidavit.

At that point, police said, Bitar brought his vehicle to a halt, blocking traffic, and he began shouting obscenities at Premich.

Bitar then got out of his vehicle, grabbed her wrist and took her phone as she was attempting to use it to photograph his vehicle and its license plate, and also call police. A motorist stopped behind Bitar’s vehicle went to the flagger’s defense carrying a club, resulting in Bitar getting back into his vehicle and fleeing the area. The identity of the man with the club is unknown, police said.

When police interviewed Bitar June 16, he accused the first flagger of using a racial slur related to him being from Lebanon and starting the disturbance. He also wanted police to file charges against the man with the club for threatening him, police said.

Bitar is charged with simple assault, harassment, disorderly conduct, speeding and failing to obey an authorized person directing traffic.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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