UPDATE Aug. 5, 2022: Jason Ray is scheduled to change his plea in Sublette County Circuit Court Monday, Aug. 8 at 10 a.m.
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PINEDALE — The certified physician assistant (PA-C) at the heart of an ongoing investigation into an alleged road rage incident pleaded not guilty to the four-misdemeanor charges filed against him. Jason Ray’s defense attorney, Travis Bing, entered the pleas on his behalf on July 27 in Sublette County Circuit Court, meaning the Boulder resident did not have to appear in court on Monday, Aug. 1.
9th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Curt Haws scheduled a six-person jury trial to take place on Tuesday, Dec. 13.
Ray is charged with three misdemeanor counts of battery resulting in bodily injury to a minor and a single count of reckless endangering stemming from an alleged July 9 altercation with a 16-year-old.
As previously reported, sworn testimony filed with the circuit court by Sublette County Sheriff’s Deputy and investigator Todd Morgan states that the Ray informed him that he was traveling on the upper boat dock/campground road hauling his boat after spending the day on Fremont Lake. He said he was driving slowly because of the potholes in the road when he was passed in the left lane by a 2001 white Dodge 1500 pickup truck in what Ray described as “an unsafe manner” and “at a high rate of speed.”
The juvenile driver of the pickup, whose is referred to by the initials R.H. in court records due to his age, told law enforcement he estimated he passed Ray at 30 mph while driving in third gear.
According to court records, Ray told the investigator that when the pickup stopped at the intersection of Forest Service Road 111 and Fremont Lake Road, he pulled in behind R.H., honked his horn and then approached the driver and began to confront him about his unsafe driving behavior.
Ray told the deputy that the juvenile began to swing at him through the driver’s window; the alleged victim and two witnesses told officers that Ray ripped off the teen’s shirt and struck him twice in the face.
The teen reported that Ray “grabbed his left inner arm between the bicep and forearm” trying to pull him out of the vehicle. He further told law enforcement that Ray “struck him with a closed fist on his left chin and then again as his friend pulled up behind them. RH told the deputy that he “didn’t touch him (Jason Ray).”
According to court records, as R.H. was removed from the vehicle, his foot came off the clutch, causing the 2001 Dodge to roll backward into Ray’s F250.
Speaking to SCSO Deputy Morgan, Ray said he told a witness who confronted him about the driver being under the age of 18 years old, “I’ll f---ing punch you too if you want it, you know, like get the f--- out of my face.”
The deputy wrote in his report that Ray stated he “was in f---ing kill mode” while dealing with minor and the witness.
Ray’s sister, Jennifer Pedersen, was also interviewed as a witness. She told the investigator that she did not observe either party hit the other, but did not know how long the teen was out of his vehicle. When asked by Deputy Morgan if she saw Ray strike R.H., she stated, “I don’t know… he could have… he was mad, clearly.” She also reported watching the teen “peel out,” kicking up sand and gravel as he left the scene. The deputy observed “tire marks indicating the vehicle left quickly.”
Other witnesses, including the 15-year-old who made the 9-1-1 call, described the teen driver as “looking disoriented” and “in a state of shock” as he drove away.
According to the Sublette County Hospital District’s (SCHD) website, Ray has been a member of the Marbleton-Big Piney medical team since August 2016.
After the charges were filed in Sublette County Circuit Court, SCHD Administrator Dave Doorn confirmed that Ray was placed on administrative leave pending and investigation and that, “obviously this is a matter we (the board) are treating very seriously.”
Then, at the July 27 SCHD Board of Trustees’ meeting, trustee Dave Bell moved to “rescind the contract of Jason Ray previously approved by the Board on June 22, 2022 (sic). Jason Ray’s current contract will be extended for 180 days. Legal counsel will draft a new employment contract for consideration and-or approval by the board. Jason Ray’s administrative leave will continue for no less than 45 days, or until such time as the board deems appropriate.”
The motion passed unanimously. Board Chair Tonia Hoffman closed the meeting with no further comment about the ongoing personnel matter.
It is not clear whether Ray is getting paid while on administrative leave.
If convicted of all four misdemeanors and sentenced to the maximum penalties to run consecutively, Ray could face up to 30 months in prison and a fine of up to $3,000, or both.
Criminal charges are often dropped or reduced, and Ray is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.