The driver of a limo that sent nine to hospital when it crashed through a group outside a Vancouver nightclub was apparently fleeing a distraught man armed with a large traffic cone, police said yesterday.

The enraged man, said Const. Jana McGuinness, was involved in some sort of verbal altercation at the Esso station at Burrard and Davie. “We’re not sure what set this man off,” McGuinness said. “But it was quite heated.”

The man threw a hubcap at a building and damaged a payphone. He then picked up a three-foot traffic cone and raised it above his head as he approached the limo.

The limo driver, who police said feared for his safety, hit the gas. His wheels were turned and the car jumped onto the curb and struck a group of pedestrians outside Celebrities Night Club.

The assailant took off running, but was caught by police after a foot chase.

Kyle Allan Wugalter, 22, of Calgary, is facing charges of resisting arrest and mischief. He is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow.