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Vt. fire chief pleads guilty after throwing flash light at car

In fear of being hit, the chief reportedly threw a flashlight at an oncoming car to get the driver's attention

By FireRescue1 Staff

BENNINGTON, Vt. — A Vt. Fire chief has pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct after he threw a flashlight at a vehicle he thought was going to hit him at an emergency scene earlier this year.

Chief Joseph T. Hayes, 43, of the Bennington Rural Fire Department was charged in July with disorderly conduct and unlawful mischief when he got into an altercation with a motorist while assisting at a downed power line, according to the Bennington Banner.

Chief Hayes was reportedly crossing the road when a fast-moving vehicle was coming towards him. He said he shined his flashlight at the car to get them to slow down or stop, but it didn't. He ended up throwing the flashlight in front of the car and had "choice" words with the driver.

Fred Grant, the driver of the car, claimed that he was traveling between 15 and 20 mph with another vehicle three car lengths in front of him with bad visibility because of rain and lights from another car facing him. Grant alleges he did not see Hayes until an object hit his vehicle and Hayes started yelling at him.

Police said Chief Hayes was not wearing reflective gear at the time.

Chief Hayes' attorney said that throwing the flashlight was just a reaction and he didn't mean to do any harm to Grant's car.

No monetary restitution was part of the case, but Chief Hayes may be asked to do community service.

Chief Hayes' attorney also added that he was surprised Chief Hayes was charged at all, noting that Grant had several traffic violation on record.

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Howard Hill Howard Hill Thursday, January 10, 2013 3:25:45 PM Civilians don't understand the Emergency Services. They are tuned into their iPhone/air conditioned/loud music world. That driver should be prosecuted and jailed for ignoring an emergency signaling device......We got lights, we got rights......Except in the court of law. This ruling sucks.
Sean Bravener Sean Bravener Thursday, January 10, 2013 3:27:27 PM if he was afraid he was going to be hit then he should be allowed to do what is needed in order to protect his life and the fire scene. Also if the driver had on coming traffic then he should not have been driving even that fast and should be charged with driving too fast for conditions. If the driver could not see a figure flashing a flashlight at him then he was very much driving too fast. reflective clothing or not.
Jim Cooley Jim Cooley Thursday, January 10, 2013 3:29:04 PM people just do not pay the hell attention. I see work zones, first responders I SLOW DOWN! NOT A BIG DEAL FOR ME! dude was lying, I would side with the chief, sorry he had to go through that crapola becuase some motorist had their head all up in thier own ass.
Brandon John Cernetisch Brandon John Cernetisch Thursday, January 10, 2013 3:30:08 PM compleatly agree with you Howard Hill
Howard Hill Howard Hill Thursday, January 10, 2013 3:30:59 PM :-)
Shawn Eric Gaida Shawn Eric Gaida Thursday, January 10, 2013 3:39:49 PM He never should have been charged at , being from Vermont myself, I can tell you for a fact that a lot of drivers here do not pay attention to the roads, road safety personell or accident scenes. The driver of the car should have been driving much slower for the conditions, but I also do believe that if the chief was directing traffic he most certainly should have been wearing a safety vest too. But I believe the chief acted correctly throwing the flashlight at the car and verbally lecturing the driver, the driver was at fault.
James Dow James Dow Thursday, January 10, 2013 3:46:55 PM At least it was a flashlight and not a haligan! Lol
Robert Pidgeon Robert Pidgeon Thursday, January 10, 2013 3:47:06 PM when in doubt throw the flash light or anything else. pretty lights means slow down dope and if you can't see stop. wow how tough was that. people just don't give a shit if it's not them or their family involved.
Lea Fleming Lea Fleming Thursday, January 10, 2013 3:50:16 PM Ok then where's the problem the driver admitted that he did not see the Fire Chief until he threw his flashlight at the car and started to yell at him. What was he suppose to do stand there and wait to get hit?
Alain Duane Alain Duane Thursday, January 10, 2013 3:50:34 PM aint that the truth!
E Mark Baland E Mark Baland Thursday, January 10, 2013 3:57:25 PM There have been other flashlights tossed at stupid drivers, and will be more of both. Guess we must realize these days that we don't have the respect and consideration of times gone by.
Chris Vieritz Chris Vieritz Thursday, January 10, 2013 4:01:54 PM good on him people are idiots they just don't look.
Crystal Snyder Barger Crystal Snyder Barger Thursday, January 10, 2013 4:03:40 PM I have been in that position before. And it dont matter how much gear you have on people are too busy looking to see whats going on than to pay attentuon to the pavement. Dont agree with this at all!!!!
Ryan Angelillo Ryan Angelillo Thursday, January 10, 2013 4:13:39 PM Y didn't the chief have any reflected gear on in the first place that's wear he was wrong
David Potts David Potts Thursday, January 10, 2013 4:18:03 PM Police would have put a few rounds thru the windshield.... no questions asked, no charges filed... tell me why FD doesn't get the same consideration.
James E Phillips James E Phillips Thursday, January 10, 2013 5:49:21 PM "Normal" folks driving DO NOT FOR THE MOST PART PAY LITTLE ATTENTION TO FIRE POLICE ETC. at Road Blocks. ACCIDENT'S etc. All they see are lights Flashing wanting to see what is going on. USE CONES, FLAGS, FLARES, REFLECTIVE CLOTHING ETC. Combo Amber/ Blue Lights work well or better. When We arrive on location, It is our property/ road. The area is Shut Down To Protect our People til Set up is done. THEN and ONLY THEN Do We let you move. It takes a few min's you will survive as We want too. We will let you drive by Safely or help you go another way like around or the way you came. If By chance you do not want to follow our rules during this issue, You can be arrested on the spot or later at your home. Plate numbers do find you.
Roy Gumpel Roy Gumpel Thursday, January 10, 2013 6:21:23 PM seems to me that this is yet another clear case of us reading a little headline and coming up with all kinds of reactions and damnations and so forth. Roll the Video please! I have seen the worst of drivers at scenes And I have seen the worst of first responders at scenes also. (by the way, I don't wear this getup every day. Halloween and a 12 yr old daughter!)
John Rudisill John Rudisill Thursday, January 10, 2013 6:40:54 PM Seems like Chief Hayes is already doing community service.
Paul Tyllick Paul Tyllick Thursday, January 10, 2013 8:36:56 PM The police should never have charged the Chief, and the judge should have thrown it out.
Betty Revell Guenter Betty Revell Guenter Friday, January 11, 2013 9:54:10 AM Hmmm....I guess a careless driver with traffic violations has more rights than someone that is doing a job of taking care of idiots like that driver.
Andrew Jordan Andrew Jordan Friday, January 11, 2013 2:32:12 PM the cheif did what he thought was necessary to protect his life if u cant see a person in front of u flashing a light then u shouldn't be driving and on top of that this person has previous driving violations then there should be an invstigation into that driver.

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