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Daily Dirt: Assault on Raccoon Mountain, Honnold Strikes Again, and East Coast Cold Front

The daily dirt for today, January 20th, the day astronaut Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., was born.

Cyclist Reports Assault on Raccoon Mountain

On January 13, 2014, cyclist Anders Swanson was out for a cruise on Raccoon Mountain near Chattanooga, Tenn., when a black Chevy truck approached Swanson from behind. The passengers in the truck were two teens, and Swanson says the two laid on the horn before narrowly flying past him. Swanson immediately pulled over and called the Tennessee Valley Authority security, who said they would arrive shortly and meet him at a nearby stop sign. Swanson continued on to the meeting point, only to be confronted yet again by the same truck. This time, the driver got so close to Swanson, the truck narrowly missed his foot. To top it all off, one of the teens gave Swanson the middle finger as he peeled out down the road. This time, though, Swanson had thought ahead, turning on his personal video camera after the first incident to capture any ensuing action.

TVA security arrived shortly after and encouraged Swanson to call the Chattanooga police, which he did. After meeting the police at the bottom of the mountain and providing his report, Swanson headed back to the parking lot where he had left his car. En route, he noticed a white Toyota 4Runner following closely behind and immediately recognized the passengers as the same two teens that were in the black truck. The 4Runner drove up past Swanson and stopped, waited for Swanson to pass, and then repeated the cat-and-mouse game until they arrived at the parking lot.

The teen driving pulled up beside Swanson and rolled down the window, saying, “How’s it going?” Swanson responded by asking the teen if he was the driver of the other truck. The teen responded no before pulling out a squirt gun and shooting Swanson in the face, not with water, but with pepper spray. The teen took off, leaving a blinded and choking (and asthmatic) Swanson grabbling for a phone. He dialed 911 and EMS arrived promptly on the scene.

Swanson replayed his video that night and made stills from the footage, stills which clearly depicted the attackers’ faces, and posted the photos to Facebook. He warned fellow cyclists and hikers about the incident and asked for help in identifying the two teens. Soon, Swanson received the names he was seeking and took them straight to the Chattanooga police, who in turn sent an officer to the boys’ homes. The boys confessed, and the officer told Swanson the two could be arrested.

Except, the teens did not get arrested. Instead, the case was turned over to the Marion County Sheriff’s Department. Sergeant Tim Prince with the department contacted Swanson and told him not only to take down the photos of the teens but also that by having those photos online he was committing a total of three felonies. If Swanson pressed charges against the boys, the sergeant warned that the teens’ parents would press felony charges against him. Swanson was floored at this turn of events. Nevertheless, he removed the photos from Facebook and came into the sheriff’s department the next day.

After talking with the officers, Swanson learned that the teens had changed their story, even after confessing, claiming that Swanson had tried reaching into the car to grab the passenger and that the pepper spray was an act of self defense. Chief Detective Gene Hargis and Assistant District Attorney Julia Veal encouraged Swanson to drop the charges because, as Detective Hargis said, “It’s their word against his.”

Remember, Swanson has video of the entire attack. The TVA parking lot where the pepper spray incident took place also has a security camera, which can be used for further evidence against the teens’ story. If the teens had been the victims of an aggressive Swanson, why then was Swanson the one to make calls to the local police and security personnel? Furthermore, there is a police report from the Chattanooga officer detailing the teens’ confessions, and Swanson even received a phone call from one of the mothers “apologizing profusely” for her son’s role in the attack. In regards to the “three felonies” Swanson committed by posting the photos to Facebook, an attorney Swanson later hired assured him that no such law exists in Tennessee.

So what the heck? The evidence is all there. I’ll let you decide where the truth lies.

(information provided by

Climber Alex Honnold Strikes Again

Internationally acclaimed free-solo climber Alex Honnold brought in the new year with a bang last week: free-soloing the 1,500-foot limestone big-wall route called El Sendero Luminoso in three hours. Whoa. The route, which is in El Potrero Chico, Mexico, was called “complex and tenuous” by fellow climber Cedar Wright, who accompanied Honnold earlier in the month to clean the route and train. Modest by nature, Honnold told Outside Magazine that “it felt pretty straight forward. Once I started up, I was like this is awesome. I didn’t blow a single foot—like a ballerina.” Wright followed up his earlier statement by saying, “Alex will downplay the achievement, but I can assure you this is one of the most cutting-edge big-wall solos of all time.”

Brutal Cold Is On The Way

According to Firsthand Weather, these last days of January heading into February are going to be the coldest of the winter season yet. What’s more, the Arctic-like blast of cold air in the East will likely bring with it a substantial snow storm. That’s good news for ski resorts, bad news for cities (but who wants to work when there’s 12in. of #powpow out your front door anyway?).



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