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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Confused Japanese tourists led to a Utah Highway Patrol chase, trooper says
This story should in the "You've got to be kidding me, right?" file. Story thanks to and Natalie Crofts. Links provided:

ST. GEORGE — A Japanese tourist confused about what to do when police lights came on behind her prompted a chase by the Utah Highway Patrol Sunday.
The car had just crossed the border into Utah going only 37 miles per hour on I-15 when Lt. Brad Horne, commander of Utah's DUI squad, noticed it was wandering out of its lane. He suspected the driver was intoxicated and attempted to pull the car over, but the car sped up instead of stopping.
"They did not have a clue what they were supposed to do when there were red and blue lights behind them," he said.
The driver would alternately slow down and speed up while the patrol car followed, with speeds ranging between 40 and 75 miles per hour. The chase lasted about seven miles, according to Horne.
“The vehicle was all over the road — on the shoulder, in between the two lanes — and the vehicle didn’t stop,” he said.
Horne had his DUI squad with him in the area for the weekend, so troopers shut down both lanes of I-15 for a few minutes to conduct a felony stop and take the people out of the vehicle.
“The vehicle didn’t respond to lights or sirens and at that point since there were so many of our extra officers in that area, they were able to put the spikes out and we spiked three of the vehicle's tires,” he said.
After the car was stopped, a Japanese couple and their 7-year-old son were brought out of the car at gunpoint.
“That’s when we realized there was probably something wrong, because they could not follow any simple instructions or directions in that process,” Horne said.
He said it became apparent very quickly that it was a situation where there was a language and cultural barrier. The occupants of the car could not speak any English, so UHP contacted an officer in another area who could speak Japanese and act as an interpreter.
The couple and their son had arrived in California that morning from Japan and rented a car to drive to Bryce Canyon.
Horne said there didn't seem to be any intent to evade officers — the driver simply didn't know what to do in that type of situation. UHP could have charged them with felony evading, but based on the circumstances does not intend to do so.
Troopers helped the family get their car to a safe place and find a motel room where they could stay for the night.
Horne said it was an unusual case and that he wasn't sure if the driver was tired, or if any other factor played a role in the woman's erratic driving. The occupants weren't able to provide a driver's license to show officers, but Hertz requires a license to rent a car.
“It was a difficult situation, one that was unfortunate, but no one was hurt or injured," he said. "Obviously, if you’re going to drive here in America and Utah you probably ought to know something about our laws.”
Horne said local troopers told him they sometimes stop tourists, but that they have never encountered any problems on this level because usually the red and blue lights are universally understood.


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