Failure to yield yields ticket |

Failure to yield yields ticket

Two men from Maine learned the hard way Thursday that the Roaring Fork Valley takes its firefighting and fire prevention seriously.

The men, who recently arrived in the area, were ticketed for interfering with a fire truck rushing to battle the Snowmass Creek blaze and, in an unrelated incident, for flicking a lit cigarette butt out of their pickup.

The saga started at 12:15 p.m. when a brush truck from the Basalt and Rural Fire Protection District was heading east on Highway 82. A Toyota Tacoma pickup was stopped behind a tractor-trailer at the upper Basalt bypass stoplight. When the light turned green, the pickup veered into the left lane of the eastbound lanes.

The fire truck was approaching with flashing lights at a high rate of speed and was forced to swerve into the westbound lanes to avoid rear-ending the pickup, according to fire truck driver Cleve Williams. Williams said there was fortunately no traffic coming the opposite way at that particular time.

The pickup driver responded by “flipping us off,” said Williams.

He reported the incident to the dispatch center, but the pickup wasn’t immediately located.

Two hours later, fate struck. Sgt. Chris Maniscalchi of the Basalt Police Department observed the passenger of a black Toyota Tacoma pickup flick a lit butt out the window on Valley Road near the El Jebel City Market. Given the dry conditions and the presence of a fire in the valley, he felt it appropriate to stop the vehicle.

When he routinely called in the license plate, a dispatcher recognized it from the earlier incident. Maniscalchi wrote the driver a ticket for littering from a vehicle. The law dictates that the driver get ticketed even when the passenger commits the offense.

Maniscalchi also held the vehicle for the Colorado State Patrol. Trooper J.J. Robinson said he wrote the driver a ticket for failure to yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle.

The names of the occupants of the vehicles weren’t available because the law officers were contacted while patrolling the roads. Maniscalchi said both occupants of the vehicles were males in their early 20s. He said they were cooperative with him.

[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is]

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