Man caught driving in HOV lane with fake wooden passenger

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Monday, March 2, 2015

DIX HILLS, NY -- A Long Island man was issued a traffic summons after police caught him traveling in the HOV lane of the Long Island Expressway with a fake passenger.

The bizarre incident happened at 6:30 a.m. Friday near Exit 51 on the LIE in Dix Hill.

Friday morning, Suffolk County Highway Patrol Officer Jonathan Abrams pulled 56-year-old James Campbell over for speeding in the car pool lane on the Long Island Expressway.

When the officer asked for the passenger's ID, he was in for a surprise.

"He said, 'Can I see some ID?' and I said, 'Officer, I don't think so!' I've been using him for months; I came home on the HOV lane. Hey, what can you do?" Campbell said.

Campbell told the officer that he was driving to a new job and did not want to be late.

Campbell, of Brentwood, was issued summonses for speeding and occupancy violation.

"As I approached the car, I realized that the front seat passenger wasn't human," said Officer Abrams.

It was a bust, all right..a homemade, wooden torso, designed to beat the HOV rules when police say Campbell told them he had to get to work on time, somehow.

"He kinda shrugged and had a silly face on for the most part like he knew he was busted," Officer Abrams said.

Thanks to the eagle eyes of Abrams, who's been a cop for years, but only joined highway patrol six months ago.

"Do you give him props for at least assembling this thing?", we asked. "Not really, it wasn't a good job. Not a lot of artistic talent at all."

It depends who you ask, like James' neighbor, of 25 years.

("Does James like to craft things?") "Oh yes, he's a very good craftsman, excellent craftsman," the neighbor said.

But unfortunately, in the vast arena of HOV dummies, most people say they've seen better.

"I don't know, you got to find a better hobby, I think he needs a little work," said Suffolk motorist Nina Binder.

"He could at least put a face on it," said Suffolk motorist Jenna Spedalari. ('Makeup, hair?') "A little, at least hair," she said.

And so the next time you're just trying to get to work on time, remember if you decide to get "creative", you might also get caught, especially if you're driving way, way past the speed limit.

"Obviously slow down," said Officer Abrams. "The HOV lane isn't a reason to speed, it's for carpools, not for people trying to get to work a little faster."

Campbell admits he used the dummy again on his way home Friday night, so he could drive in the car pool lane.