Man sent to jail for Maui road rage encounter with tourist

WAILUKU, Hawaii — A Hawaii man was sentenced to eight days in jail for a road rage encounter that resulted in damage to a car and a tourist getting punched last year.

Spencer Powell, 23, was given the jail stay Wednesday after pleading no contest to charges of third-degree assault and second-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, The Maui News reported .

“I just can’t say enough how sorry I am,” Powell told the court. “I know I probably ruined his vacation.”

Gagan Tayal, of Pennsylvania, was driving with his wife and two daughters to the eastern side of Maui when they approached a one-lane bridge in April 2017, Deputy Prosecutor Jeffery Temas said. Tayal stopped and saw Powell’s SUV speeding toward the bridge.

The SUV driver was yelling, but Tayal couldn’t immediately back up to let Powell cross because of other cars and pedestrians, Temas said. When Tayal was able to reverse, change was thrown at his rental car.

The tourist continued driving toward Hana, in the opposite direction of Powell, and later stopped on the side of the road. Powell drove up behind the car, yelled obscenities, punched Tayal on the face and threw a drink at the car, Temas said.

Powell, of Wailuku, told the court that he “lost it,” claiming Tayal spit at him with gum landing in the hair of Powell’s girlfriend.

“In his mind, he was just trying to protect his woman,” defense attorney Gina Gormley said. “This has been a learning experience for him. He went from being upset to being extremely remorseful. He knows he should have driven off.”

The prosecutor disputed the gum-spitting claim.

“We have all heard of road rage — this is the first time I’ve heard of bubble gum rage,” Judge Rhonda Loo said at the sentencing hearing. “I have two very, very different stories about what happened.”

Powell also was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and to complete anger management classes. He was ordered to write apologies to Tayal and his family. He also paid $920 in restitution for the damage to the rental car.

“I do know in order for you to track down Mr. Tayal, you had to turn around,” Loo told Powell. “And to turn around in Hana on those narrow roads, it did take some effort.”


Information from: The Maui News,


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