MDI unable to put brakes Lakers, but deputy did

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

A sheriff deputy was able to stop the Lake Region girls’ basketball team in its tracks, unlike Mount Desert Island.

As the newly-crowned Class B state champions were being escorted along Route 302 Saturday by local fire trucks (the team stayed over in Bangor Friday night), which had sounded their sirens, the SAD 61 school bus was pulled over near The Black Bear Cafe by a Cumberland County Sheriff’s deputy. The deputy directed his cruiser in front of the school bus, alerting the driver to pull the vehicle over to the side of the roadway.

“When I first saw the deputy, I thought he was joining the parade,” said Laker Head Coach Paul True.

The deputy was apparently ready to enforce traffic law.

“The decision by Deputy Cory Plummer to stop the Lake Region High School girls’ basketball championship celebration on Saturday morning was a critical decision made, enforcing a statute (29-A §2054-5) that is vague and non-specific to the situation occurring at that time,” said Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce. “At the time of the stop, the deputy was not aware of the escort or the rationale for the escort.”

The statute referenced by Sheriff Joyce reads, 5. Exercise of privileges. The operator of an authorized emergency vehicle when responding to, but not upon returning from, an emergency call or fire alarm or when in pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law may exercise the privileges set forth in this subsection. The operator of an authorized emergency vehicle may:

A. Park or stand, notwithstanding the provisions of this chapter; [1993, c. 683, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1993, c. 683, Pt. B, §5 (AFF).]

B. Proceed past a red signal, stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as necessary for safe operation; [1993, c. 683, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1993, c. 683, Pt. B, §5 (AFF).]

C. Exceed the maximum speed limits as long as life or property is not endangered, except that capital security officers and employees of the Department of Corrections may not exercise this privilege; [2001, c. 360, §7 (AMD).]

D. Disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions; and [1993, c. 683, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1993, c. 683, Pt. B, §5 (AFF).]

E. Proceed with caution past a stopped school bus that has red lights flashing only:

(1) After coming to a complete stop; and

(2) When signaled by the school bus operator to proceed. [1993, c. 683, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1993, c. 683, Pt. B, §5 (AFF).]

Nothing in this subsection prohibits the operator of an authorized emergency vehicle from activating emergency lights for the limited purpose of warning motorists when entering or exiting structures designed to house the emergency vehicles.”

Violation of this subsection carries a minimum fine of $250.

The school bus driver did contact Andy Madura, director of Transportation, Maintenance and Food Service at SAD 61, regarding being stopped.

The deputy allowed the convoy to continue. Many LR fans greeted the champs on the Naples Causeway and others followed the bus to the high school for a reception.

It is common across Maine to honor state championship teams with “official escorts.” The Fryeburg Academy softball team enjoyed such escorts after winning the Class B West title five times at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, as well as following state title wins there. The Raiders were escorted by Fryeburg fire, rescue and police along Routes 5/113 from the entrance to the Eastern Slope Regional Airport to Main Street and back over to the Wadsworth Arena on Bradley Street.

Sheriff Joyce hopes to avoid future confusion by jumping onto the celebratory bandwagon.

“I have instructed my command staff to discuss how we will respond to future situations such as this, knowing that other agencies take part in community events, (such as) funeral processions, etc.  I am a very supportive of community policing and want the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office to be a partner in future events, such as these,” he said. “I congratulate the Lake Region High School girls’ basketball team on their division championship and I am committed to having my agency involved in future championship celebrations.”

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