A Nevada Highway Patrol trooper was stunned after he pulled over a hearse that was driving in the carpool lane on Monday, and the driver asked if the corpse he was transporting counted as a passenger.
Trooper Travis Smaka spotted the Chrysler minivan hearse going southbound in the HOV lane on Interstate 15, according to the Los Angeles Times. The driver appeared to be alone — but that was because Smaka was not counting ”the dearly departed in the back,” as Nevada Highway Patrol Southern Command later explained on Twitter.
Today we stopped a local funereal home hearse in the HOV lane. The driver had the dearly departed in the back, he thought the deceased could be counted as two people. I guess we should clarify this, living, breathing people count for the HOV lane. The driver was given a warning pic.twitter.com/OQms0ktl8t
— NHP Southern Command (@NHPSouthernComm) July 1, 2019
So Smaka flashed the lights of his patrol car and pulled over the hearse driver, collecting his license and registration. He was expecting to hear one of the more typical excuses — that the driver was running late for an appointment or on his way to an emergency situation.
But instead, the driver nodded toward the rear of the minivan. Smaka took the hint and asked, “Oh, you have a deceased in the back?”
That’s when the driver pressed his luck and replied, "So, he doesn't count?" according to Fox News. The trooper had no choice but to break the bad news — cars are only allowed in the carpool lane when they’re carrying at least two “living, breathing people.”
“He’s not with us” he told the driver, then clarified, “This body was in the rear cargo and that doesn’t qualify as a seat.”
Smaka said the interaction gave him “a good chuckle” and threw him off his game for a moment. “That was one of the more interesting responses I've gotten,” he said.
The violation called for a $250 traffic ticket, but Smaka decided to let the driver off with a warning instead. The Highway Patrol has also protected the identity of the driver and the funeral home where he works.
While the hearse driver’s excuse was a unique one, it certainly wasn’t the first time someone has tried to navigate their way into the carpool lane using a bogus story.
A Northern California man once tried to argue that the articles of incorporation for his business counted as a second passenger, as the Supreme Court regards corporations as individuals in legal matters.
Other drivers have attempted to place less-than-stellar stand-ins for actual people in the passenger’s seat. One Washington man attached President Trump’s face in cardboard to the headrest. And another tried it with a life-size cutout of The Most Interesting Man in the World.
I don't always violate the HOV lane law...but when I do, I get a $124 ticket! We'll give him an A for creativity! 👮👍 pic.twitter.com/hNbQDuBWfc
— Trooper Johnna Batiste (@wspd1pio) March 24, 2015
In California, a driver tried to pass off his full-grown German shepherd as a legitimate passenger — after all, the pup was wearing its seatbelt just like a human.
"This guy told me that he shouldn't get cited because the dog was a family member,” the trooper told the Los Angeles Times. “He was adamant about it.”
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