Watch CBS News

Driver accused of running down woman in Hopkinton, nearly killing her in apparent road rage

Driver accused of hitting woman after road rage incident in Hopkinton
Driver accused of hitting woman after road rage incident in Hopkinton 02:24

HOPKINTON - A driver is accused of running down a woman and nearly killing her with his car in a horrific case of apparent road rage in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

Ryan Sweatt, 36, of Milford, pleaded not guilty to several charges Friday in Framingham District Court. The victim, 26-year-old Destini Decoff, was rushed to a hospital with what authorities described as "life threatening injuries."

According to the Middlesex District Attorney's Office, Sweatt was driving a Honda Civic on Route 85 near Cornell's Pub around 6 p.m. Thursday when he got into an incident with another driver.

Ryan Sweatt in Framingham District Court, April 5, 2024. CBS Boston

Knocked "several feet into the air"

At the arraignment, the prosecutor said Sweatt drove away as people in that car got out, but he quickly turned around and sped towards them. When he passed them, he made a second U-turn, the prosecutor said, and Sweatt slammed his car into a woman, "knocking her several feet into the air." 

The prosecutor said a Hopkinton Police officer saw Sweatt speed away. When he caught up to Sweatt and stopped him, the officer saw the Honda's windshield was damaged.

"They're trying to kill me"

The officer said Sweatt got out of the car screaming, "They're trying to kill me." That's when Sweatt pointed back at the scene where the officer saw five people in the road, including a severely injured woman on the ground, barely breathing, next to a puddle of blood.

According to court documents, Sweatt told police he was driving home from work when the car Decoff was in pulled in front of him and slammed on the brakes. He said Decoff and four men then jumped out of their vehicle, surrounding, and threatening him.

Witness says victim's clothes flew off

"We could tell there was a little road rage going on," said Brett Martin, who was at Cornell's Pub on Route 85 when he heard a car screech. He ran out to see the victim airborne. "I saw her mid-air kind of coming down towards the street...her jacket must've been 20 feet away from her. However she got hit, those clothes flew off." 

He got her jacket and covered her up. "He turned around multiple times, and he could have just kept going," Martin said. "He chose to turn around. He knew what he was doing when he went towards that girl." 

Destini Decoff's mother thanked the man who helped her daughter.

"Please let him know the world needs more people like him in it. What he did for my child goes far beyond a simple thank you," Decoff's mother said.  

A prosecutor told the court surveillance video backed up the witnesses' versions of what happened.

Investigators did not say if Decoff was the driver or a passenger in the car. 

Victim on life support

Victim of road rage incident put on life support, mother says 00:40

Destini Decoff's mom tells WBZ that her daughter had complications during surgery and that it is likely she will not breathe on her own again. 

"The decision is now up to me whether or not to keep her on life support," Destini's mom said.  

Ryan Sweatt held without bail

Sweatt is charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury, operating to endanger and a marked lanes violation. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf. He was ordered held without bail and will return to court April 10 for a dangerousness hearing.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.