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Police: Passing stopped school bus is illegal

Apr 1, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff Writer

After several violations were reported, the Fremont County Sheriff's Office wants to remind motorists that it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus with its emergency lights activated.

"It is no different than running a stop sign, but the consequences could be much more disastrous in these situations," Sheriff's Capt. Ryan Lee said.

According to the sheriff's office dispatch log, law enforcement received a call from a woman at 5:15 p.m. March 20 reporting that a man in a black pickup truck drove past a school bus with its emergency lights activated near Missouri Valley Road and Highway 789 by Riverton.

Another call was made at 1:57 a.m. March 27 from an individual at Wind River High School in Pavillion concerning a tan pickup truck that passed a school bus unloading students east of the school at about 4:10 p.m. the previous day.

The reporting party said the stopped school bus had its emergency lights on.

The most recent report occurred at 1:23 p.m. March 29 and was again made from someone at Wind River High School. The reporting party said the traffic offense happened on Blue Shale Road near Riverton.

Lee said anytime a bus is stopped and has its emergency lights activated, motorists in both directions are required to stop.

"All traffic must stop and stay stopped until the lights are deactivated, and the bus is back in motion," Lee said. "It is a traffic offense, and you can be cited into court."

None of the recent reports resulted in a citation.

According to Wyoming statute, a maximum $750 fine could be imposed for passing a school bus when the vehicle's red lights are flashing.

Fremont County experienced a tragedy Dec. 20 when William Dean Barnes, of Lander, struck and killed an 11-year-old Crowheart girl crossing U.S. Highway 26 after exiting a school bus.

The school bus driver reportedly had the vehicle's red overhead lights flashing at the time of the collision.

Barnes faces misdemeanor charges of homicide by vehicle, driving too fast for conditions, passing a stopped school bus with flashing red lights and failing to exercise due care as a driver.

He is due in court next month.

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