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Woman saves her own life during road rage attack on I-5

Aubrey Bowlin, an experienced motorcyclist, nearly lost her life when a driver with extreme road rage attacked her on I-5. (Aubrey Bowlin)

Aubrey Bowlin, 24, never thought she’d find herself in a fight for her life — much less a fight that began with road rage — while commuting home from work on her motorcycle.

It was a rainy February afternoon, and Bowlin was headed home on I-5 to get ready for a date that evening. An experienced motorcycle rider, Bowlin has commuted on I-5 for the last five years, and is used to the typical stop-and-go traffic of rush hour.

The first signs of road rage trouble started near Milton, when a car got right up on Bowlin’s tail and stopped within just feet of her bike. Bowlin does not believe she flipped the driver off, but she said that she did make a “What are you doing?” gesture to him.

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What happened next, however, was road rage to the extent Bowlin had never in her life witnessed.

“The one time I leave a little too much space for the car in front of me, he then proceeds to go onto the shoulder and try to ram me with his car on the passenger side of his car, on the left side of my bike and with my left leg, into the cars … to the right of us, which would be considered the fast lane,” she told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.

The driver, identified as 60-year-old Bruce Jones, repeated this action a couple of times, as Bowlin tried to get away. Jones’ wife was in the passenger seat the entire time; Bowlin observed that she had a shocked expression.

While stopped in the next slowdown, Bowlin could not believe what she saw in her mirror. Jones had stopped his car and was coming toward her. She put her kickstand down, preparing for a fight.

Bowlin knew already that a physical fight would be heavily weighed against her. Not only did Jones have several inches of height on her, but she was wearing a tracksuit that did not allow her to move very easily.

Jones first hit her with a chest bump, to which Bowlin retaliated with a head butt, sending him into the guard rail.

“He had his hands on me and I was trying to shimmy out of that, and he just wasn’t letting me go,” she described.

He tried to rip her helmet off, and the way he shook her head, she said, “felt exactly the same” as a dog shaking a toy in its mouth.

“I think his motive was to try to take my helmet off so that he could further hurt my head,” she said.

In the fetal position against the barrier as Jones weighed down on her, Bowlin began to slip in and out of consciousness due to the tightness of her helmet’s chin strap. Bowlin realized in her lucid moments that Jones was going to choke her to death.

“If he had gotten my helmet off, I would’ve been dead,” she said.

It was at this point that Bowlin suddenly remembered that she had a firearm. She knew that she had to save her life.

“It was me or him,” Bowlin said. “And I was coming home.”

She managed to pull her gun out of her jacket and fire, hitting Jones in the abdomen.

“It was pretty intense; I never thought that I would have to be put into this situation,” she said. “I’ve never wanted to use my firearm to defend myself.”

By now, other drivers were stopped and getting out to help Bowlin as she crawled away, throwing up. Compassionate toward her attacker, she told them to help Jones, who was lying on the ground a few feet away.

Jones died of the injury. Bowlin knew that she had done no wrong, but it did not stop her from worrying that the law — as well as people on social media — would judge her otherwise.

“I was fighting for my life, and that’s what the whole point of having a concealed weapons permit and having a firearm is — to solely defend your life, because I thought he was going to take mine,” she said.

The Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office soon after cleared Bowlin of any blame in the case. Still, the past six months have not been easy for her. Post-traumatic stress disorder is constantly with Bowlin.

“The physical injuries have healed, but it’s now the emotional ones that are with me, every second of every day,” she said.

Therapy is helpful, but it is the “most expensive thing I’ve seen, to date,” she said. Because of this, her family and friends have set up a GoFundMe page for Bowlin to help with the costs of counseling.

Each day is a struggle, but Bowlin is determined to move on.

“It’s not only myself I have to deal with; I have this pain on my family,” Bowlin said through tears. “My family has to think about daily that they could have lost their only daughter.”

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