I’ve been a bit intrigued about this picture posted on the Bishop, CA DHP’s Facebook page, titled “American Muscle vs. CHP”. It just struck me as a bit too unreal for a genuine roadside assist of a motorist in distress, because of a number of details which I won’t repeat now, but you can read them all in my update on that post. After a comment was left there by someone who claimed to be a CHP officer claiming it was real, I decided to follow up, by calling the Bishop CHP office. Now I have the full details, and no, Officer Bol wasn’t exactly assisting “a stranded motorist”.
I spoke to the Public Information officer there, and here’s what happened: Officer Chris Bol was assigned as an escort to a professional photo shoot unit at that location involving some classic vintage cars like the pristine Camaro. At some point, the driver of the Camaro needed to make a U turn, and the front wheels of the Camaro sagged a bit into the softer dirt/sand at the edge of the road. The driver of the Camaro was apparently very indelicate with the throttle attached to the high performance V8 under its hood, and spun the rear wheels unnecessarily in trying to back up. Officer Bol decided to help the driver by giving some verbal direction as well as a physical boost. The dust being thrown up was the driver still being heavy-footed with the throttle and/or clutch. Or maybe purposefully creating a better picture for the film crew shooting this. That part we’ll never know. The driver’s facial expression does seem to suggest a fairly high degree of self-awareness that this is a photo-op in the making. Or staging.
So the reality is of course somewhere in the middle of the question/dispute as to whether this was real or staged. It certainly wasn’t real in this being a stranded motorist and Officer Bol just happening to come across him and providing the critical push to get him out of the ditch. Motorists getting stuck on back roads is not that uncommon, and the normal response is for 911 or the highway patrol to provide a phone number of a towing company. It almost invariably takes more than a single person’s push to extricate a car that’s truly stuck in soft sand, and it’s not exactly the CHP’s job, although they have been known to help if they happen to be there and it’s withing their ability and…willingness to provide it.
In this case, Officer Bol was on escort, which means the film company was likely/undoubtedly paying the CHP office for his services. And of course it’s highly debatable as to the specifics of the incident, meaning if Officer Bol hadn’t been there, undoubtedly other members of the film crew would have provided any necessary assistance or pushing, if it really was necessary. It would appear that some gentle feathering of the gas and clutch would have done the job too. But apparently Officer Bol wanted to make them feel that he was earning his (likely overtime) pay, and he jumped in and took charge. Or something like that. Which in any case made for a great photo opportunity.
Back to our regular programming…