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Wednesday 19 June 2019

'I'm lucky to be alive' - Ex-RTE man Nolan knocked out in road rage attack horror

PJ Nolan (has told of his shock after being punched unconscious in a road rage attack
PJ Nolan (has told of his shock after being punched unconscious in a road rage attack

A former RTE radio presenter has said he is "lucky to be alive" following an unprovoked road rage attack that left him unconscious at the side of a road.

PJ Nolan (58) was driving home from a shopping trip in Navan, Co Meath, when he saw a car coming straight at him.

As he got closer, he realised the driver was texting on his phone, which forced Mr Nolan to swerve into a ditch to avoid a crash.

Uninjured, the former cyc-ling and farming commentator left his car to approach the male driver, who had also left his vehicle.

Mr Nolan said the man suddenly went into a fit of rage, shouting at him in what sounded like an eastern European language.

Drugs

"He went absolutely ballistic," he said. "I tried to remain as calm as possible, but there was nothing I could do to calm him down.

"He was a lot bigger than me and looked very strong, but I never thought he was going to hit me."

However, a moment later, the enraged motorist punched Mr Nolan in the jaw, causing him to fall and hit his head hard on the ground.

"I never saw it coming and was left unconscious at the side of the road, but I can't remember for how long," he said.

"Even though it was about 8.45pm, I was very lucky it was still bright out and that no other car had come around the corner, because I would have been run over.

"I never came in contact with this man in my life and had no idea why he wanted to hit me.

"I've never seen someone so enraged."

Mr Nolan, who is on the Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI) board, added that he was found lying on the road by his neighbour, who called his brother, John.

"When I woke up, I couldn't remember what happened. My brother thought I had passed out from a diabetic-related issue," he said.

"They were feeding me sweets to perk me up, but I soon remembered that I was actually attacked.

"An ambulance was then called and I was transferred to Drogheda Hospital, where it was discovered I was concussed and had brain swelling.

"I was released the following day, but could do very little because of severe headaches and dizziness.

"After I realised what had happened, I reported the incident to the guards, who confirmed that an investigation is under way.

"I'm not sure if my attacker will ever face justice for what he did, but I know he's a very dangerous man who is willing to attack people for little or no reason.

"It could have happened to anyone else."

Nearly two weeks after he was attacked, Mr Nolan said he still suffers from headaches, but added that he feels lucky he was not killed.

"There are so many cases of people being struck in unprovoked attacks and dying from head injuries as a result of a fall. I consider myself so lucky that my injuries weren't life-threatening," he said.

"What really scared me was how quickly everything escal- ated. When I got out of my car, the last thing I was looking for was trouble.

"Had I realised what this man was capable of, I would have driven off right away.

"My advice to anyone in a similar situation is to be extremely wary about interacting with people you don't know.

Scary

"I've worked in war zones for the UN and in far more dangerous environments, but I never realised something like this could happen to me so close to my home."

Mr Nolan said that in future he would "really consider the consequences" if approaching anyone he deems a potential threat.

"It's scary to think of what might have happened because these types of things occur in a blink of an eye," he said.

The well-known farmer, who is also the former Cycling Ireland president, believes there is a lot of impatience and aggression on Irish roads.

"As an avid cyclist, I see aggressive drivers almost every time I go out," he said.

"I don't know what it is about Ireland, but in other countries motorists and cyclists have more of a mutual respect.

"There definitely needs to be more tolerance among drivers because people can lose their heads so easily," he added.

The Navan Road Club man served as the president of Cyc- ling Ireland from 2000 to 2004, and successfully secured a place on the executive committee of the OFI in 2017.

He also worked for periods as a farming journalist with RTE and the Irish Farmers Journal.

He is a member of the wider Nolan family, which has been key in developing Navan Road Club.

Mr Nolan also kept his hand in with the television world as a cycling commentator during Olympic coverage.

Last year, a man died after he was punched and fell backwards during a road rage incident in Co Wexford.

The two men involved in the incident were lorry drivers aged in their 50s.

The two vehicles were being driven into Rosslare Europort when the incident took place.

The drivers jumped out of their cabs and came face to face.

After an argument, in which witnesses said blows appeared to have been exchanged, one driver fell backwards and hit his head on the ground.

The other driver then climbed back into his cab and drove out of the port, apparently unaware of the injuries sustained by the other.

The injured driver, who was Romanian, was found lying on the ground.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

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