Monday, February 23, 2009

It's a car--it's a plane--it's a SUBMARINE!

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.


Aunt Zee said...

No one wants to take responsibility for anything these days. It's always the blame game. How sad!

Anonymous said...

That's pretty funny! I can so picture the whole sscenario. I once chased a stolen vehicle into an agricultural canal where the 2 hapless theives were minors and definately not swimmers. We were able to quickly locate and arrest them. But I guess it is such a common thing here thaat we have a tow company that speciallizes in recovering these vehicles. Even send out scuba trained tow guys. Along with the fire dept and ambulance who have scuba guys. And O.T. oh yeah! - Officer

randompawses said...

Hmm, damn near did that myself back in the day, only law enforcement wasn't involved. Late night, lost on dirt roads, dumbass 18-y.o. with new Camaro going *ahem* a little fast - and all of a sudden there's a lake in front of me. Skidded halfway down the boat ramp before I got stopped. Good thing too - my father was a deputy sheriff at the time and I would have NEVER lived it down. He'd have nailed my hide to the wall and his buddies would have laughed at me for years.

Damn, but I still miss that car! We had good times together.

BTW, the captcha is "cluts", and when you pronounce it....yeah, "klutz" fits me. LOL

Anonymous said...

That always worries me. I have a mild fear of police officers, and my automatic look whenever I see them is, 'Oh, shit'.

That said, I've never done drugs, didn't drink before the age of 21, and was generally a complete sissypants.

I used to get pulled over frequently when I wasn't speeding. It was always confusing and horrifying for me. One memorable time was when I was in my senior year and was picking up two friends from another part of town and a different school.

I get pulled over, he asks me for my drivers license and insurance, which I give him, and he asks us to step out of the car. I almost start crying. We get out (I'm a female, my passengers were two gents) and he starts shining a light in my eyes saying my pupils look slightly dilated. I promise him I'm not on anything, it's 10 am on a Saturday and I was picking up friends. He then asks what school we go to, they tell them their school (in Mesa) and I tell them mine (in Chandler).
Then it gets weird. He asks for their school ID, saying he worked security at the school last year and never saw them. Claimed he never forgot a face. He started giving them the third degree over it. I start crying. There are over 1600 kids at that school, and if the officer is going to be so picky, I can only imagine the outcome.

He then asks to search my trunk. Not thinking, and not knowing my rights, I let him search my entire car- which turns up nothing more than some rock cd's, a pair of boots, schoolbooks, and general car junk.

After again going on about my eyes looking dilated behind my glasses, he lets us go.

Since then I've been pulled over because an officer thought one of my brake lights looked dim (turned out it wasn't, after testing them for him on the shoulder of the road). The worst was when I owned a little red Geo Prism. I don't care what anyone says, you do get pulled over more when you drive a red car.

Now I know why I'm more prone to get pulled over- it's the 'oh shit, I'm dead' look that I can't quite control.