Man angry with road closure hits Michigan State Police trooper with SUV during Ironman event

Trooper told man to turn around several times

James Berta (WDIV)
James Berta (WDIV)

EMPIRE TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A man angry about a road closure ran his SUV into a Michigan State Police trooper Sunday, police said.

Roads were closed for the Ironman 70.3 Triathlon in Benzie and Leelanau counties. Two troopers were at a traffic point at the intersection of Plowman Road and M-72 when the man, James Edward Berta, approached one of them at 10:22 a.m.

Police said the trooper told Berta, 82, of Empire, the eastbound lane was closed for the event and he couldn't cross the road.

Berta got mad and started yelling obscenities at the trooper, police said. He refused to turn his vehicle around despite being told by the trooper to turn around several times, police said.

Authorities said Berta honked at the trooper and ran into him when he turned away from the vehicle. The trooper stumbled, and another trooper came to help.

The trooper wasn't injured.

Berta is charged with felonious assault.