A motorist accused of hitting a bicyclist and driving away first told police that he hit a rock, then began complaining about bicyclists without lights, according to charging documents filed Tuesday.

In the incident early Tuesday morning, Christopher Robert Patterson, 21, of Missoula, faces charges of negligent vehicular assault resulting in serious bodily injury, and failure to remain at an accident scene where a person is seriously injured, both felonies.

He's accused of driving a Honda Accord while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and hitting the cyclist in the 1000 block of East Broadway, according to an affidavit filed by Deputy Missoula County Attorney Patricia Bower. A car's side mirror was recovered there, the affidavit said.

According to the police report included with the affidavit:

A police officer investigating the accident saw a black Honda Accord driving on one rim past the scene. The car also was missing an outside rear-view mirror. "The broken mirror housing exactly matched the pattern of the remaining housing on Mr. Patterson's Honda," the report said.

When police asked Patterson for his registration and proof of insurance, he handed the officer a maintenance receipt from University Motors. Then he handed the officer a tire receipt and tried again to give the officer the maintenance receipt. The officer had to tell Patterson what his registration looked like before he finally found it.

Patterson denied he'd been drinking, but scored a 0.165 on the Intoxilyzer, twice the legal driving limit of 0.08.

When told he was suspected of hitting a cyclist, "Patterson responded, unsolicited, with something to the effect of ‘I thought it was a rock,' then, ‘The bicyclist didn't have a light,' and proceeded to rant and continue on about possible bicyclist equipment violations," according to the police report.

"During an interview with Detective Mark Blood, defendant admitted to driving a car, hitting the victim and seeing the victim lying on the side of the road in his rear-view mirror," Bower's affidavit said.

"Due to the egregious facts" in the case, Bower sought a $100,000 bail.

Acting Missoula County Justice of the Peace Mike Frellick set bail at $50,000 and ordered that Patterson be fitted with an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet if he manages to post bond. He also ordered him not to drive, nor to have any contact with the cyclist.

The cyclist was treated at a hospital and released, according to Missoula Police Detective Sgt. Travis Welsh. His injuries were not life-threatening, Welsh said.

Negligent vehicular assault resulting in serious injury carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine, while leaving the scene of an injury accident can result in a 10-year prison sentence and/or a $50,000 fine.

Missoulian reporter Gwen Florio can be reached at 523-5268, gwen.florio@missoulian.com or CopsAndCourts.com.


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