HURRICANE – Over a dozen motorcyclists escorting a funeral procession from St. George to Virgin Saturday were frustrated when they were stopped by Hurricane Police for various infractions, causing them to miss the graveside service for the deceased they were honoring.
The procession was to honor Josh Maynard, who passed away after a long battle with cancer.
“Josh wanted to be taken in a hearse to the cemetery followed by friends and family on their motorcycles,” said Katie Mandel, one of the procession’s riders. “We had made it all the way from Metcalf Mortuary in St. George, down St. George Boulevard, up Bluff Street, through Washington to Exit 13 and then into Hurricane. Two Hurricane City Police trucks passed us going in the opposite direction.”
“Hurricane police officers first observed the procession as they crossed 3400 West State in Hurricane,” Hurricane Police Sgt. Brandon Buell said. “They were using motorcycles to stop traffic and direct traffic when the light would change to allow the procession to continue on through the red light.”
Buell went on to say that the motorcycles again did this at the intersection of State Street and 700 West in Hurricane, at which point the officers stopped several motorcycles in the parking lot of Hurricane High School.
“One of the police officers just about turned over on me, trying to get us all to pull over, causing me to slam on my brakes,” Mandel said. “They got about 15 of us pulled over and into a parking lot.”
The officers were rude, she said, and made a really big deal about the motorcycles impeding traffic and running the red light.
“When we told them we were with the funeral procession they simply dismissed it and told us all to get our licenses out.”
Hurricane Police officers did speak to the group who informed officers they had a permit to be doing what they were doing, Buell said. But, they were unable to produce any permit. The group was warned and advised to not be stopping or directing traffic; and a few riders were issued citations for not having the required motorcycle endorsements to their driver’s licenses.
The whole group missed the graveside part of Maynard’s funeral because of the traffic stop.
“It would be completely different if we were all lawbreaking hoodlums,” Mandel said. “Most of us are part of groups here in Southern Utah that are always involved in charity events; and we were in a funeral procession for Pete’s sake.”
While the Police Department understands what the group was doing in respecting the deceased who passed away, Buell said, there are a lot of dangers in trying to stop or redirect traffic.
“They were in violation of traffic laws and stopping traffic with no authority to do so,” Buell said. “Officers were also concerned with the safety of those riding the motorcycles as well as the safety of the traffic being stopped by them.”
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