It started out as a quiet summer night a few years back.
I was just driving along, minding my own business, when a small late-model car with two teen girls passed me going the opposite direction. They weren't speeding or anything, but the driver clearly had that panicky "oh shit, it's a cop!" look on her face. That look on the face of a driver, passenger or pedestrian is usually a red flag and a good reason for closer investigation, so I braked and U-turned on that car just to follow it for a bit.
Immediately that white car became a rocket and took off.
Oh, yeah. Here we go. I hit the overhead lights and called out with a pursuit in progress. It was about 11PM or so on a dark, deserted rural road with no traffic and nowhere for this car to go. Or so I thought, anyway. The driver of the car immediately made a sharp left turn onto a narrow dirt road that led into one of our parks.
I let dispatch know that the pursuit had now turned into this park, and that the chase was about to terminate as this road was less than a mile long. I knew that it came to a dead end in a small parking area for the boat launch that was there. I guess I naively assumed that these girls knew it too as I expected them to start slowing down any time.
But they kept their speed up, reaching highway speeds on this narrow dead-end dirt road.
"They gotta know this is a dead end," I kept telling myself.
But apparently they did not. And before I could even say "WTF?!", they shot into and across the parking area, hit some logs meant as a barrier to stop cars from rolling past the parking lot boundary, and went airborne for a brief moment before impacting with a huge splash into the water beyond.
They almost cleared the whole dock, but they wound up taking that out, too.
"10-50 into the water! Roll Rescue and start a Hook," I told Dispatch.
But as it turned out, the girls weren't injured. Both clambered out of the car and waded ashore. And just my luck--they're 17. Juveniles. I really, really hate dealing with juveniles just because of all of the extra hoops that our department makes us jump through.
As it turns out, this all started because they had a beer in the car between them. One beer. And when they saw me, they panicked. Of course being teen girls, when I asked where they got the beer, they lied and claimed that they just found it sitting alongside the road.
"OK, so you're in the habit of stopping to pick up any bottle on the ground that looks like it might have beer in it and drinking it, is that right?"
"Uh-huh," they both said with straight faces.
So I asked for their ID and parents' contact info.
"Do you really have to call my mom?" the one asks.
"Gee, do you think?"
So rescue came and checked them out and pronounced them fine but wet. I then administered a PBT (Portable Breath Test) to both, because, being under 21, any alcohol in their system is illegal and the PBT is sufficient for a citation. Both had positive scores so each got an "Underage Consumption of Alcohol" citation.
Then the real fun. The moms showed up. No fathers--just two very angry mothers.
And predictably, they were not angry at the girls, but at each other, and, of course, at me.
Each mom blamed the other girl for getting her daughter into this mess. Then it got positively comical when they learned that the car--owned by om A--had been driven into the water by the daughter of Mom B. So after Mom A jumps on me for chasing darling daughter into the water, she demands to know who is going to have to pay for the damage to her car.
"That's between you and your insurance company," I tell her. "And you can also expect a hefty bill for that dock."
"But my daughter wasn't driving!"
"Apparently not," I explained. "But you entrusted your car to your daughter. Your daughter entrusted it to this girl. And when I called your insurance company, they told me that neither of them are covered drivers on your insurance policy. This is probably going to go against you since it was your car and you'll have to sue this other girl through her mother to recover the amounts that you're going to wind up being held liable for."
This of course started a screaming match between the mothers that looked like it was about to go Pro Wrestling. Since it wasn't taking place in front of my cruiser's video camera, I moved in to break it up before the fists flew and the hair extensions came out.
I quickly got everyone documented and sent them home, and then hung out to write my report in peace while waiting for the tow-truck to show up and yank the car out. And it's lucky for me that I got rid of Mom A before the hook showed up, because that chimp that the tow company sent out probably did more damage to the car by carelessly yanking it out (and dropping it back in at least three times due to bad hook-ups) than the Dukes of Hazzard stunt that dunked it in the first place.
This damned case wound up bouncing back and forth in the juvenile courts and civil courts for at least three years and I can't even recall how many times I was subpoenaed or deposed as the park, the insurance company and the two moms battled back and forth over the bill and tried to mitigate the fault by fighting the Underage Consumption charges, but it was a lot. (Overtime = Ka-Ching!)
Moral of the story: If you have a spoiled brat daughter, don't let her and her girlfriend borrow your year-old car without at least making sure that they're both covered drivers.
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