By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Ken Thompson was riding his bike south on the Natchez Trace Parkway on March 17, approaching Tupelo and his waiting friends, when a man in a white truck appeared.
“He pulled up beside me and stopped,” Thompson said. “So did I.”
Thompson said the man in the truck leaned over the seats to the passenger side door and turned the crank to manually lower the window and said, “This highway is intended for four-wheeled vehicles and not two.”
The man paused, according to Thompson, and said, “And I pay taxes.”
Thompson didn’t really know what to say, so he pointed out, “Well, I pay taxes too.”
That’s when Thompson said the man in the white truck began shaking with anger and said, “I’m going to beat the hell out of you.”
Thompson remembers him unbuckling his seat belt, getting out of the truck and charging Thompson.
“He started to punch me in the face while I was still on the bike,” he said. “I was going to ride off and leave him standing there but I didn’t get a chance. He punched me 10 or 15 times – really rapid fire.
“Then he threw me down and my foot went through the spokes of my front wheel and wouldn’t come out so I couldn’t get up. For the next 12 minutes he just pounded on me and I couldn’t get up to defend myself.”
Thompson is 67 years old and weighs about 150 pounds. He said he has never been in a fight before but the man who attacked him that day clearly had.
The man dragged Thompson’s bike off the road toward the woods while Thompson was fighting to remain conscious.
“Finally, a car approached and slowed,” Thompson said. “The coward gave me one last hard kick in the chest and ran away to his truck and sped off. If he could have gotten me into the woods or if the car hadn’t come online, I’m sure that he would have killed me or left me for dead.”
More than a month later, Thompson still has soreness in his chest, $7,500 in medical bills and a condition that may lead to a detached retina in his right eye.
He was treated at North Mississippi Medical Center before returning home to his home in a Midwestern state he said he would rather not have published for fear of retaliation.
“When I went to the emergency room, the paramedics and the paint contractor who stopped and saved me, they all said it’s not right that I came down to enjoy Mississippi’s resources and this happened.”
Thompson, who called the Daily Journal to tell his story, said he wants to see someone come forward with information about his attacker. Trace law enforcement officials confirmed Thompson was the victim.
He said he wants people to know he wasn’t riding a fancy bike in a spandex suit in the middle of the road.
“I’m a 67-year-old retired, conservative guy who grew up in agriculture,” he said. “My bicycle is over 20 years old, has been ridden thousands of miles and I did absolutely nothing to provoke being attacked.”
The only thing he remembers about his attacker is that he was in his 40s or 50s with graying hair and stocky build. He was driving a white pickup truck with a crew cab and manual windows.
There is a $1,500 reward through CrimeStoppers of North Mississippi and the National Park Service for anyone who has information that leads to a conviction in this crime.