Hearse Driver Tried Using Corpse to Qualify for Las Vegas HOV Lane

Bill Pan
By Bill Pan
July 3, 2019US News
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Hearse Driver Tried Using Corpse to Qualify for Las Vegas HOV Lane
A Nevada Highway Patrol vehicle in Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

A mortuary driver decided to ride in a Las Vegas HOV lane because he thought the corpse he had in the back of his van counted as a passenger, police said.

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Travis Smaka was on Interstate 15 in Las Vegas on Monday when he noticed someone in the carpool lane driving alone.

He stopped the vehicle—a grey Town and Country minivan—and the driver quickly told Smaka there was a deceased person in the back, catching the officer off-guard.

Nevada Highway patrolman
A Nevada Highway patrolman pulled over a hearse in the HOV lane. (Screenshot/Nevada Highway Patrol)

“As I get up to the window,” Smaka told Reno Gazette Journal, “I see he’s wearing a polo shirt with a funeral home logo on it.”

“He immediately tells me he’s got the remains of a person in the vehicle behind him, so I kind of glanced in the back and confirmed that,” Smaka said.

nevada state trooper
A Nevada Highway patrolman pulled over a hearse in the HOV lane. (Screenshot/Nevada Highway Patrol)

Smaka peeked inside the cargo area, which was indeed equipped like a hearse, with a bodybag attached to a rail and a gurney, reported Reno Gazette Journal.

“It kind of threw me off a little bit,” said Smaka. “And then he just made the funny remark, something along the lines of, ‘So he won’t count?'”

Smaka said he got a good chuckle out of it but told the driver that, no, deceased people do not count as passengers. He let the driver off with a warning.

“It just threw me off. That was more of the more interesting responses I’ve gotten,” Smaka told CNN.

Nevada’s HOV rules state that an HOV lane is supposed to be “used exclusively by vehicles with two or more people.” It is not specified, however, whether an occupant must be a breathing person.

Nevada Highway Patrol tweeted about this bizarre traffic stop on Monday to clarify that passengers must be alive and breathing in order to be counted.

“I guess we should clarify this, living, breathing people count for the HOV lane,” reads the tweet.

Since the story quickly gained popularity on social media, the NHP said it’s raised some “interesting legal questions” regarding whether a deceased person should be considered a passenger.

“Nevada state law doesn’t specifically state the person has to be alive, but when it comes to carpool lane restrictions, the statute is talking about seats being occupied,” the department said in a statement, reported Fox 11.

In order words, since it’s about seats, a living person would need to occupy a seat to qualify.

“While we are sure this will be debated for a long time, our takeaway is if you’re not a mortuary and you get stopped by a trooper for driving in the HOV lane with a dead body in your car, the HOV lane violation is going to be the least of your concerns,” the statement said.

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