A U.S. border guard has pleaded guilty to harassment for threatening to kill a Surrey teen during a road-rage incident in Washington earlier this year.
Joel Jeffrey Helle, 56, a border guard at the Blaine crossing, was sentenced to one month of partial confinement, according to documents filed in Skagit County court earlier this month.
The incident in question took place April 23, when Helle – driving a black, unmarked BMW – alleged he was cut off by an SUV travelling northbound on the 1-5, driven by a 17-year-old Surrey resident.
When the teen changed lanes away from the BMW, Helle forced the SUV onto the shoulder, where the teen eventually stopped. Helle approached the SUV – which was also carrying the teen’s parents and a friend, on their way back from a visit to the University of Washington – flashed his badge and banged on the window.
When the teen rolled down the window, Helle grabbed his throat and made threatening remarks, before he let go, returned to his car and drove away.
In his victim-impact statement, the teen – who has not been identified publicly – said he is still “haunted” by the incident and is uneasy, fearful and tense when driving on highways or crossing the border.
He said he is prone to “angers and frustrations” and that he often dreams of someone crushing his neck.
“After I wake up from such nightmares time and again, night after night, I always feel the scars in the neck with my fingers in the darkness, while recollecting every detail of the incident,” the teenager wrote.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has placed Helle on indefinite suspension since the incident, and is conducting an internal review.