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8/13/2013 3:16:00 PM
Reckless driving charge issued against bus driver from flood
Mohave County sheriff wants 'Stupid Motorist' law to be used
No one was injured when this tour bus was caught in floodwaters. The driver faces a reckless driving charge. (Courtesy)
No one was injured when this tour bus was caught in floodwaters. The driver faces a reckless driving charge. (Courtesy)
Arizona's Stupid Motorist Law
Arizona Revised Statutes 28-910.

Liability for emergency responses in flood areas; definitions

A. A driver of a vehicle who drives the vehicle on a public street or highway that is temporarily covered by a rise in water level, including groundwater or overflow of water, and that is barricaded because of flooding is liable for the expenses of any emergency response that is required to remove from the public street or highway the driver or any passenger in the vehicle that becomes inoperable on the public street or highway or the vehicle that becomes inoperable on the public street or highway, or both.




Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - The driver of a nearly full tour bus that rolled on its side while trying to cross a flooded wash on Pierce Ferry Road July 28 faces misdemeanor charges of reckless driving, according to Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan.

If the driver is convicted, Sheahan said his office would move to have the driver prosecuted under the so-called Stupid Motorist Law.

Joseph Razon was sent a summons to appear at a court hearing in Kingman Justice Court at 10 a.m. Sept. 10, said Sheahan.

Thirty-three people on their way back to Las Vegas after visiting the Grand Canyon Skywalk were on board the luxury bus when Razon attempted to cross the flash-flooded wash, which carried enough force to rip the asphalt off of the road as it crossed near milepost 16.

The bus tipped on its side and floated about 300 yards before it came to rest at a 45-degree angle.

Nobody was injured. The driver, tour guide and passengers were able to step onto dry land upon exiting the bus' emergency exit windows.

The driver reportedly attempted to cross after seeing a passenger car make it safely across, a statement at least one local official has a hard time believing.

Patrick Moore, Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District chief, said at the time it was unlikely any vehicle could have made it across.

"I have trouble believing that," said Moore in a July 29 interview. "I have a hard time believing a small car could make it through."

Moore said the pavement on Pierce Ferry Road had been washed away and water was 6 to 7 feet deep in some areas.

The flash flooding was intense and carried along mud, rocks and other desert debris that wasn't visible to motorists.

While there were no injuries, the response from emergency service providers was intense.

Along with the NACFD, other responders included the Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire District, Kingman Fire Department, Care Flight Air Ambulance, River Medical/AMR Ambulance, National Park Service and the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.

The Stupid Motorist Law is an Arizona statute that calls for any motorist who becomes stranded after driving around barricades to enter a flooded stretch of roadway to be liable for the cost of their rescue. An additional $2,000 fine on top of rescue costs could also apply.

Bessy Lee of CHD Tours told the Miner in late July that Razon did everything "absolutely right."

"He stopped and checked the road," said Lee, the company's marketing and brand director. "He saw the passenger car go through the wash and even the passengers and tour guide said it should be OK to cross."

Lee instead blamed Mohave County officials for not having emergency workers at the flood site to warn motorists.

"You'd think the authorities would be out there to tell people to please be careful. There were no warnings," she said on July 29.

The new bus, which Lee valued at $600,000, was destroyed.



ICT - Arizona Sommers Cooling and Heating
Related Stories:
• Bus driver in flood pleads to misdemeanor
• Charges possible in tour bus accident


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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Article comment by: Frederick Williams

It seems to me the authorities should be listening to the passengers who were on the bus at that time instead of remarks made by Patrick Moore, who was not at the scene when the bus tried to cross, and why not believe what the driver said about a car ahead of him? Has it been proved that their wasn't a car? Or is it just him saying to make their case?

Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Article comment by: Carol Ann Rivera-Miller

All tour companies, drivers & passengers who visit the Grand Canyon need to change their frame of mind to be in a HURRY! SLOW DOWN! Thank God no one was hurt at this incident....BUT...please get something mandatory for these companies to do better TRAINING. The training should include a class about different weather conditions that occur in the locations they are traveling. The training should include office staff who should be checking on weather. Any Driver coming into the Desert should become familiar with their surroundings. The drivers should be told to take their time and not rush. I am aware of many tourists who book too many activities in one day. Most of the Canyon visitors have a show to go to the same night. I, personally, have been on way to Vegas when I have been passed by tour buses speeding by in a hurry. I am sure they have a bus full of people saying they will miss their show.
Based on all possibilities for delays in traveling, no one should reserve anything else on Grand Canyon day. This way the Driver won't be stressed to get back & guests won't be upset. Isn't traveling supposed to be enjoyable? Not dangerous!


Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

I think this barricade clause makes it a moot issue on stupid motorist issue, but reckless driving is a no brainer if he did what they say he did!

Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Article comment by: A Serious Thought

I think a similar law should be written for use at BOS meetings.



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