By Danny Schrafel
There’s a reason that passenger looked so stiff. It’s because the “person” next to a man driving on the expressway was a wooden figure, police said.
A Suffolk County police officer who pulled over a speeding man in Dix Hills on the Long Island Expressway HOV lane Friday morning discovered the man had a fake passenger riding shotgun.
Officer Jonathan Abrams pulled driver James Campbell, 56, of Brentwood, over near exit 51 on the westbound LIE for going 77 mph in a 55 mph zone at 6:30 a.m. He discovered a “non-person sitting in the passenger seat,” Abrams said with a chuckle.
“Basically, it was in the shape of a torso, with the head on top and a gray hooded sweatshirt,” Abrams said, describing it essentially as a “wooden stick figure” made of scrap wood.
Campbell told Abrams that he did it because he was rushing to a new job and did not want to be late, according to police. Instead, he was issued summonses for speeding and the HOV violation, which carries a five-point penalty on a driver’s license.
“It was definitely surprising,” Abrams said. “It takes a bit of nerve to do that.”
Although a mannequin in the passenger seat is often joked about, Abrams said that, in his experience, it doesn’t happen that often. And, for officers, it’s hard to find unless the driver in question is doing something else wrong.
“At 55 mph-plus, it looks like a person up there,” he said.
HOV lane restrictions are in place from 6-10 a.m. and 3-8 p.m., Monday through Friday.