Man Accused of Hit-and-Run Found By Police Beaten and Tied to Telephone Pole

A California man who allegedly knocked another man unconscious by hitting him with his car after a heated argument was found by police beaten and tied to a telephone pole hours later.

The Calaveras County Sheriff's Department say that a verbal argument between Thomas Bechtold, 29, and James Leslie, 47, resulted in Bechtold committing attempted murder and a hit-and-run when he drove his car into Leslie on Friday afternoon.

Officers from the sheriff's department and the California Highway Patrol responded to the incident at an intersection in rural Valley Springs and were told that Bechtold had fled the scene in his car after using it to knock Leslie unconscious.

An investigation that was immediately launched into the whereabouts of Bechtold was fruitless until about three hours later, when police received a report that Bechtold had been "dropped off" near the same intersection where Leslie had been struck.

"When deputies arrived, they found Bechtold, battered with his hands tied behind his back and tethered to a telephone pole," officials said in a press release.

hit-and-run stock photo
A man who thought he had gotten away after striking another man with his car to end an argument ended up beaten and tied to a telephone pole hours later. Getty

Bechtold was arrested and taken to Calaveras County Jail, where he is being held on bail of almost $2.2 million. He was charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, battery with serious injury and felony hit-and-run.

How Bechtold ended up beaten and tied to a pole is unclear, although the circumstances suggest an attempt at vigilante justice may have been involved. Police say the investigation remains open and they are seeking tips.

Newsweek reached out to the Calaveras County Sheriff's Department for comment and additional details but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Attempts at seeking vigilante justice after hit-and-run incidents don't always end well.

In May 2019, a 21-year-old white woman who was later dubbed the "female George Zimmerman" allegedly gunned down an elderly black man in Georgia after she chased him when he failed to stop after a minor hit-and-run incident.

Mistaken identity has also been an issue for would-be vigilantes. A Georgia man was sentenced to six months in jail and years more in probation after he chased down a man he mistakenly thought was the driver in a hit-and-run, firing shots at his car after the man refused to stop in February 2019.

A New Jersey man seeking justice for the hit-and-run death of his brother allegedly gunned down the wrong man in January 2019, telling him "you killed my brother" before shooting him three times in the face.

Correction: This headline has been clarified to better reflect that police found the man beaten and tied to a pole.