Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Game Warden Files--And Over She Goes

ATV's can be the most wonderful tools, greatest toys, and the biggest thorns in the sides of law enforcement. Over the years, our work with them has gone from ignoring them as much as possible to actively enforcing the laws. In nearly the 25 years spent upstate, I dealt with a lot of them, as a previous post has described. A couple others deserve mention. I was headed down a somewhat remote road one afternoon when I saw an old three-wheeler approaching me. The first thing I saw was that neither the operator nor the passenger was wearing a helmet. I activated all my lights and slowed to block the roadway and keep the machine from getting around me. The closer it got the closer to the shoulder, the closer to the shoulder I drove--and it was not slowing down!  Finally the machine left the road, went down a rather gently sloping embankment, crossed the ditch and hit a tree. In what I saw as slow motion, the passenger went one way and the driver another. I had the driver in cuffs before he could get off the ground and the passenger told me she wasn't going to run, so that ended that.

Calling an ambulance was a natural response along with some help from the State Police to take an accident report. By the time all the help arrived, driver and passenger were sitting in the back seat of my patrol car with the driver telling me the whole story. He was only taking the machine for a test ride since he'd just got it running--of course his home was a couple miles up the road, but I guess he needed a long test. He hadn't been trying to avoid me; he had no brakes, so he didn't want to hit me. The ambulance crew checked both my folks out and found nothing major to be wrong with them and they both declined to be transported to the emergency room. The machine had suffered no damage--not that you'd have been able to tell if it had--and so this was neither a personal injury accident nor a property damage accident; therefor no accident report was necessary. However, I did write some paper. I believe that I wrote the operator a total of seven tickets and his passenger one for not wearing a helmet.  The machine got towed in by a local tow service so he had to pay the tow bill on that also.

One afternoon I literally "wrote a whole book of tickets" all to one family group. I'd been been working near Warrensburg and was headed over one of the connecting roads to the area of the Great Sacandaga Lake when I came up behind a line of ATV's on the road. They were all going slowly, many of the operators had no helmets and not one of the machines had a license plate visible. Since they were going slowly, I passed them all, pulled across the road and jumped out. I must have given them too much room to stop, because they got turned around and headed back the way they'd come from, hitting a trail too narrow for my truck to travel on. However, since I recognized a couple of them it wasn't hard to figure exactly where they'd come out and I headed there.  As I pulled to the spot I figured I'd meet them, down a different trail came three more machines--each with its own violations.  I started writing them and while I was doing that the group I'd been waiting for came along. This time, they knew they were busted and didn't try to outrun me again. About the time the last ticket got handed out, down the road came yet another machine, also with a violation or two. A "book" of uniform traffic tickets is a packet of twenty. With this group I had finished one packet and completely exhausted another. That might have been my longest traffic stop. I was there for nearly an hour writing tickets. Needless to say, I left with writer's cramp.

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