Munter followed Allen for three miles to the young man's home, allegedly screaming curses and gesturing at him. Munter was punched there.
People who knew the two used the same words to describe their usual demeanor: quiet and mild-mannered.
So what strange metamorphosis occurs when we drive? What causes us to instantly morph into short-tempered, aggressive, intolerable, self-righteous cretins, prone to taking a radical departure from our senses?
Few of us mere mortals - myself included - are exempt from going ballistic behind the wheel. In retrospect, most of us can recognize the folly of becoming so emotionally unbalanced while driving. It's a situation the Beatles might have characterized as "nothing to get hung about." But in the heat of the moment, we fall victim to our internal spontaneous combustion, and the fool inside us rules.
Need proof? Allen is a 6-foot-6 football player who weighs 300 pounds. Munter, though 6-foot-3, weighed only 134 pounds. Does angrily pursuing someone of Allen's description seem like rational behavior to you?
Now one man is dead, and the other could face criminal charges that affect the remainder of his life. And for what - getting cut off coming out of a gas station? Anger over the price of gas would have been a better reason, but neither reason was worth dying for.
Scientists should dive head-first into the causes of road rage. They should attempt to discover why people who are usually calm and even-tempered suddenly become like Linda Blair in The Exorcist - possessed by the devil and spewing bile - just because they're driving a car.
We readily acknowledge that there is no shortage of nuts out there - some even carry guns - and that no argument about driving is worth dying over. Then why do we act so recklessly and stupidly behind the wheel?
I have a thought: Let's not allow Mr. Munter's death to be in vain, or easily forget the suddenly shattered life of a 17-year-old, described by high school officials as "a good kid." Every time we get behind the wheel, let's try to remember this unnecessary death and its aftermath of pain. These were avoidable circumstances, and they can serve as a testament that road rage is just flat-out dumb.
We know that buckling up while driving is the law in New Jersey. "Click it or ticket," we're warned. So maybe there should be an addition. We should be required to restrain our tongues and brains as well. For our own safety as well as others'.
Stephen R. Schwartz writes from Medford.