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Old 10-30-2019, 11:23 AM   #1
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'military incident'

Not sure if this the right forum for this post but figured it might help with some feedback from folks south of the border....
On December 9 th, 2018, we were heading down through Washington State on our usual winter vacation from our home in Canada to the southern states in our motorhome and turned off Interstate 5 just south of Tacoma to take a break. We then continued on the side road to look for a way to get back to I – 5. The road led only to the military Joint Base Lewis McChord ; we would have go through the base and make a U turn to get back to I – 5. We stopped at the entrance security booth where we indicated we wished to get back to I – 5. There was a large turn around area just past the gate. I indicated that I could easily make the turn around if I could go straight forward and make the swing. A military personnel stood in front of the motorhome and indicated I swing immediately hard to the right. Following her orders, I did as she instructed and collided with a large cement block that was within a foot or so of the side of our vehicle and close enough to the front that I could not see it from the passenger side mirror. We suffered some major damage ( including being unable to exit by the main entrance door) while leaving a small white patch of paint on the cement block. Had I gone straight forward as planned ( to avoid any swing of the back end coming close to the guard house, all would have been well and I could have easily U turned in the area past the guard house. This became a ‘ military incident’ ( referred to by the military personnel as ‘duty damage’) which had to be officially reported, documented, etc. We had become extremely stressed at this point and after 2 ˝ hours, we were allowed to continue on our way. They returned our vehicle documents and driver’s licence when we had turned around and were heading back out past the security booth including a United States District Court Violation Notice for $281.00. We could either pay the fine within 30 days or wait for a court date to be sent to our home address.
We carried on to our planned destination where I managed to get out the emergency exit window and pry the door open with a crow bar and eventually make it more or less functional with a sledge hammer.
We decided that we would wait for the “ Notice to Appear” and contest the issue due to what we considered the ' unfairness’ of the incident. ( There was more than $5000 damage to our MH..) The notice indicated that if we did not receive a “ Notice to Appear” within 45 days to call the Central Violation Bureau. When we arrived home there was nothing in the mail and since it was past 45 days, I called the CVB on March 6 th. A representative indicated there was no record of the violation notice on file at the Bureau. I phoned again in August and again they indicated there no record of that particular violation notice. They gave me the CVB Location Code and a phone number which was the Federal Prosecutor’s office in Washington State which I called 3 times over a couple of weeks asking/ detailing about the citation to an answering machine but never received a return call..
My assumption is that the violation was never submitted despite the apparent obligatory military procedure to report the incident or send in the citation to the CVB. We do not wish to encounter any problems entering the United States in the future. We have enjoyed our travels in the US for many years and fully respect all applicable laws in both our home country and in others when we travel.....
We have tried to follow all the procedures here and wonder if anyone has had an experience similar to this ( in terms of the citation, paying the ticket, contesting a ticket or a similar response from CVB – no record.....can we assume no one is waiting to pounce on us as we cross the border?
Any comments or thoughts would be much appreciated.
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Old 10-30-2019, 11:41 AM   #2
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I’m sure you’re documenting all of those calls and attempts to resolve the issue. You’ve certainly done your part. Sometimes our government/military paperwork can move slowly but I’d sure be surprised that it’d take ten months. You may want to double check that you had left your messages to the correct numbers. Without due process being followed I’d doubt you’d have an issue at the border, but these days strange things happen I suppose. My guess-and it’s only a guess-is that as that citation worked its way up thru the chain someone with common sense filed it “appropriately”.
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Old 10-30-2019, 12:18 PM   #3
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Joint Base Lewis McChord



Legal Office

(253) 477-1873 Lewis Main
(253) 982-0689 McChord Field


Call THEM and clear up 'violation'
Document who you speak with, Date/Time of contact(s), what was discussed and statements made....follow up with E-mails/Letters etc (anything in writing)


DO NOT 'ASSUME'---------
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Old 10-30-2019, 12:28 PM   #4
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I wonder if the $281 fine would pay for the damage to the base property. If so, better for you to simply pay for your mistake than have taxpayers bear that cost.
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Old 10-30-2019, 12:31 PM   #5
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I work at an Air Force base and since 9-11 many of the entrance gates would be a "back up only" type of situation. I feel for you.
I don't have my DP yet but I'm telling my wife that we need to prepare for the time when we will hold up traffic because I'm in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don't know if I'll be able to stay calm but I'm trying to prepare for situations like this mentally.
I like to think that if you and your wife were not stressed that she might have been able to help some by looking out the windows or even better yet from outside?
Sometimes things just happen and you seem to have the right attitude to get through them.
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Old 10-30-2019, 12:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeeTheUSA View Post
I wonder if the $281 fine would pay for the damage to the base property. If so, better for you to simply pay for your mistake than have taxpayers bear that cost.
To the cement block? The mistake was also at least partly the guard on duty IMO.
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Old 10-30-2019, 12:44 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Nabob View Post
Any comments or thoughts would be much appreciated.
Welcome to the states. If there actually is no record of anything happening, it's because they know the guard directed you into the barrier. (That's a big "if" though) It was their fault for forcing you to damage the vehicle, but they don't want to pay for the damage they caused, so they swept it under the rug. As far as they are concerned, nothing happened, so you have no recourse against them for the damage they caused.

Best thing for you to do is call your insurance carrier to get everything fixed, then call the legal office Old-Biscuit suggested. If there is anything filed, they will know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeeTheUSA View Post
I wonder if the $281 fine would pay for the damage to the base property. If so, better for you to simply pay for your mistake than have taxpayers bear that cost.
No, it's best for the base to pay for their screw up, including the damage they caused to the OP's RV. The OP isn't responsible for the guard directing him into a barrier. It wasn't his mistake. That's the guard's fault entirely. The OP has no reason to pay for someone else's screw up.
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Old 10-30-2019, 02:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nabob View Post
... snipped ... A military personnel stood in front of the motorhome and indicated I swing immediately hard to the right. ... snipped ...
When I’m operating my vehicle and someone indicates that “I swing” somewhere, I feel it’s my responsibility to determine if I can make it safely. I don’t assume someone else knows how my rig is able to swing.

YMMV
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Old 10-30-2019, 03:14 PM   #9
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When law enforcement standing in front of my rig and tells me to do something I don't think its a good idea to argue.
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Old 10-30-2019, 05:33 PM   #10
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Who pulls up to a military gate with an RV in tow and no credentials to enter the base? You should have stopped well short of the gate and walked up and asked first. I have access and I've done this when I wasnt sure if I could navigate through that particular gate. NO, NO, NO, unauthorized personnel are going to be turned back, particularly after 9/11 and particularly a foreign national. The poor guard/a on duty did not want to process paperwork I'm sure.
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Old 10-30-2019, 06:34 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott 3 View Post
Who pulls up to a military gate with an RV in tow and no credentials to enter the base? You should have stopped well short of the gate and walked up and asked first. I have access and I've done this when I wasnt sure if I could navigate through that particular gate. NO, NO, NO, unauthorized personnel are going to be turned back, particularly after 9/11 and particularly a foreign national. The poor guard/a on duty did not want to process paperwork I'm sure.
What he said.. Prior Military here and like he said. No way in heck they are going to let you on.

Was stationed in Washington for last 10 years of service, dont know if this applies to JBLM but at my base they started referring tickets out in town if you got a ticket on base meaning it would count against your DL... Used to be they kept that stuff on base and if you screwed up enough you would lose your driving privileges on the base. Now it goes to civilian force... Sooooo you may want to follow up on this.

- JBLM Main Gate (Liberty Gate) -- 253-967-4794

- McChord Field Main Gate -- 253-982-2588

10 years from now you will probably get flagged at the border and told to turn around..... :( I would definitely try to pursue this more and save all the paperwork and document all attempts........


As far as getting the GOV to pay for the damages.. BAAA HAAA
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Old 10-30-2019, 06:47 PM   #12
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This sort of thing happens sometimes with various branches of the military, especially when they know they are in the wrong. All of a sudden, the paperwork and incident is missing.

A few years ago I was fishing in the Valdez, AK harbor (where the oil tankers load). In our boat on our way back to the small boat harbor we passed the oil terminal restricted area by about 100 yards. Shortly thereafter we were stopped by a Coast Guard patrol boat, and they said we violated the restricted area according to their harbor radar monitor. I disagreed, and showed them my GPS track, with the restricted area posted on it. After they examined it and passed it back, they said they had to issue me a violation based on their radar track. This could have resulted in up to a $15,000 fine, but that I could make my case to a Coast Guard investigating officer. I was to receive the necessary paperwork and formal charges within 6-8 weeks, but the boat captain recommended I save my GPS track and plot so I could fight the charges. He didn't think I violated the restricted area, but was required to give me the summons. I waited for two years and never received anything.

Upon returning to Valdez two years later I took my summons to the Coast Guard Station to get an update on my case and found that they had no record of the violation, despite my copy of the summons. My call was that they knew they were wrong and "lost" the paperwork to avoid embarrassment.

Contact the base legal office and try to find out what's going on. As part of that call, ask them how they are going to address the cost to repair your rig from damage received while you were following their security guards directions. Be sure to tell them about and offer to furnish any paperwork you were given at the incident.

For any other RV'er who inadvertently get into similar problems at military installations with gate barriers, narrow entrances, or other security features, be advised YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF THE SAFETY OF YOUR RIG. If clearances are in question, STOP. Explain to the guard why you are stopped and that you need to get out to verify what you can and can't do. If they have you in a position where you can't go ahead due to barriers, and you can't back up due to a toad or tire damage, explain it to them and wait for them to get a supervisor, remove the steel bollards, get a forklift to move the Jersey barriers, unhook the toad, or all of these. I've been in this situation twice and once ended up going into the base through the OUT lane because of barriers. In the second instance guards blocked traffic on multiple "IN" lanes and on multiple "OUT" lanes so I could make a u-turn.



These folks are trying to do their job, and mistakes happen, but you're never wrong just STOPPING and sorting it out is never wrong. They'll open other lanes if necessary, or make other accommodations. THERE'S NO RUSH.
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Old 10-30-2019, 08:03 PM   #13
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... snipped ... YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF THE SAFETY OF YOUR RIG. If clearances are in question, STOP. ... snipped
Yep.
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Old 11-01-2019, 11:12 AM   #14
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Lots of good advice here ....a few points for several of the comments made. The road we turn off I- 5 from led only to the base; no other way to get back to the freeway. We were unable to backup as we approached the gatehouse as there was a full line of cars behind us and we also had a tow car. And didn't think it a good idea to stop and get out and approach the gatehouse; might look too suspicious when thinking of instances in other US military installations. Figured just best to stay put where we could be seen in the wheelhouse as we slowly moved forward till we could explain our wishes to turn around to get back to I- 5. We had clearance to get through if we just went straight ahead after the check point as the was plenty of room to swing around once past the gate ( and past the huge cement block on the right). I guess the guards figured I would need a lot of room to turn so directed me to go hard to the right to give me as large a turning radius as possible. And with a well armed military personnel standing in front of me, I decided to just follow directions. When we hit the block of cement it became a ' military incident' and due procedure had to be followed. And so on......
Maybe when the report got higher up in command after being submitted, someone decided not to submit the citation to CVB due to the nature of the incident and who was actually at fault here.
Anyway, I have had the damage repaired back up here in Canada ( as a retired boatbuilder was able to keep costs down as best I could) but still uncertain about the status of the citation as we don't want issues when we cross the border again.
Best advice is to not ' assume' and call the legal office of the base as suggested by several folks, since they were able to provide phone numbers to call Much appreciated!
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