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Hearse Driver in Carpool Lane Had 'Strangest Excuse'

'He doesn't count in the back?'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2019 9:30 AM CDT
A vehicle travels in the HOV lane, on right, in Sacramento, Calif., on Feb. 4, 2015.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(Newser) – Dead passengers don't count for a carpool. So learned a funeral home worker spotted driving alone in a minivan in a high occupancy vehicle lane on Interstate 15 in Las Vegas on Monday. Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Travis Smaka soon discovered the vehicle was actually an undercover hearse holding a body bag strapped to a gurney, reports the Reno Gazette Journal. Per CNN, the driver then asked, "So, he doesn't count in the back?" Smaka couldn't help but laugh. "I can safely say this was by far the strangest excuse for being in the HOV lane a trooper in Las Vegas has ever heard," he tells KVVU.

It's up to individual states to decide what counts as a legal vehicle occupant. Nevada's rules don't make a distinction between the living and dead, per the Gazette Journal, which is perhaps why the hearse driver was let off with a warning, rather than a fine of up to $250. After the traffic stop, however, NHP issued a clarification. "You must have a living, breathing human occupying the seats in the vehicle to be in compliance with HOV lane rules," said Trooper Jason Buratczuk. "This person was obviously a decedent and in the cargo area of the car, so they would not qualify for the HOV lane." (Read more Nevada stories.)

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