Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Trip to Jerome ends in near tragedyAll of a sudden, she noticed two tires came loose from the flatbed trailer up ahead loaded with lumber and appeared

Trip to Jerome ends in near tragedy
By Linda Bentley
DESERT FOOTHILLS – Jayne Friedman, a real estate agent with Windermere Realty, heard so much about Jerome from neighbors since she relocated to the Desert Foothills, she’d been itching to make the trip for months.
Friedman finally decided to go when her friend Phyllis Korman came to visit from Toronto. They went for a day trip on Wednesday, Nov. 1.
Although they found most of the shops in Jerome are closed on Wednesdays, Friedman said the scenery was beautiful and they enjoyed their lunch at the Haunted Hamburger.
After a pleasant day walking around the mining town, Friedman said they headed back home.
Headed south on I-17, Friedman drove while Korman napped in the passenger seat.
All of a sudden, she noticed two tires came loose from the flatbed trailer up ahead loaded with lumber and appeared to be flying in her direction.
Terrified, Friedman attempted to dodge the tires and saw one bounce off the freeway and down an embankment.
Then there was a huge crash and Friedman said, “There was glass everywhere.” It looked like a meteor hit the passenger side of her windshield.
Korman was now wide awake, and Friedman’s fear was turning to anger as the driver of the tire-spewing trailer continued driving.
Friedman drove up along the side of the truck, which said “GRP Trucking” and started honking her horn, trying to get the driver’s attention.
The driver ignored her and kept on driving. She called 911.
Hoping to see a Department of Public Safety (DPS) officer respond soon, she noticed the driver was pulling off the freeway.
She got off too, rushed out in front of the truck and blocked him off.
She called to find out how long it would be before an officer would respond. She was told it might be a while because it was rush hour.
And, even though the 911 operator told her not to get out of the car she was so angry about almost being killed by a driver who didn’t care enough to stop, she got out and confronted him.
Friedman said the driver, Guadalupe Rios, told her he didn’t know anything happened.
When the DPS officer finally arrived, Friedman said he told her, “We don’t take reports on broken windshields.” Friedman said she was incensed.
Here was a commercial truck driver, who had faulty equipment that nearly killed her and Korman and who attempted to abscond afterwards, but the DPS officer had no desire to take a report.
When the DPS officer noted some damage to Friedman’s side view mirror, he decided to take a report.
The copy of the report he provided Friedman only gives personal and insurance information about Rios and Friedman plus Korman’s name and address as a witness.
There was nothing written up about what occurred, unless it was to be done later in a supplemental report.
The information on the report about Rios is interesting.
His driver license is from Arizona, the address he provided is an apartment in Phoenix with no phone number.
However, his 1994 Volvo tractor is licensed in Oklahoma.
He claimed the flatbed trailer he was pulling, which is licensed in Arizona, was not his, although no ownership information was provided.
He claimed his insurance carrier was Old West, but didn’t have a policy number, only a binder.
Although the DPS officer wouldn’t permit Rios to leave with the trailer, he allowed Rios to leave, apparently without citing him.
Sonoran News was unable to locate any record of a citation being issued and calls to DPS were not returned.
What Sonoran News did learn was Rios has been cited for a variety of traffic offenses over the past few years, compounded with citations for expired registration, no proof of financial responsibility, no valid license, operation in violation of restrictions or class and plenty of failures to appear.
He’s been pulled over in Quartzsite, Nogales, Tucson and Yuma.
In July 2005, an arrest warrant was issued for Rios when he failed to appear in Phoenix Municipal Court after he was cited for shoplifting.
There’s more. Rios is not eligible to have his license reinstated after a medical revocation in August 2005.
While MVD records reveal his license was only revoked through Sept. 6, 2005, a call to MVD confirmed Rios’ license was still revoked because he had not paid his reinstatement fee and MVD will not reinstate his license until he clears up a matter in California. The Level 2 MVD employee then provided the phone number for the Department of Motor Vehicles in Sacramento, Calif. for further information.
MVD stated he is currently not allowed to drive in either Arizona or California.
His license was still revoked when he was involved in the Nov. 2 accident, and there was a warrant for his arrest when the DPS officer let him go.
Then there’s Old West Insurance.
Actually, there’s no such insurance company as Old West Insurance. Old West Insurance Services is an insurance agency.
Shane at Old West said she was surprised the DPS officer accepted an insurance agent’s name instead of an insurance company and insisted Rios was insured by Canal Insurance under the name GRP Trucking. However, she also said they had not yet received a policy number from Canal, and she didn’t know how long that ordinarily takes.
His binder indicates Oct.
19 as the beginning date of his policy. However, it would seem odd that an insurance company such as Canal, which has been in business since 1958, would suddenly decide to provide insurance to commercial drivers with revoked licenses in two states.
Last, there’s GRP Trucking, an entity for which there is no record of any corporation, LLC, partnership or trade name registered in Arizona.
After learning about Rios’ abysmal driving record, revoked license, shoplifting arrest and warrant, Friedman wasn’t sure who made her angrier, Rios or the DPS officer, who should have been able to discover most of this about Rios in less than the five minutes it took the Sonoran News.
Then again, DPS states: “We’re hiring” on the home page of its Web site.

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