Letter to the Editor: Lovell citizen seeks answers from LPD

Dear Editor and parents of Lovell community,

I am a mother who has decided to write this letter to the editor of the Lovell Chronicle due to what was done to my son, who is 14 years old. If this could be done to my son without repercussions, it could be done to anyone else’s child.

The first incident occurred on 9/11/23. While my son and his friends were walking around town a white vehicle intentionally hit my son’s friend and barely missed him. The white vehicle did a U-turn and was going to come back to hit the kids a second time. Luckily, there were some motorcycles driving by, which scared the driver of the white vehicle. This white vehicle was seen in town and reported to the police by my son and his friends.

Then on September 13, my son was hit on his electronic scooter coming home. My son was bribed by the driver of the vehicle, who stated, “I will buy you a new scooter.” My son said, “No, I am calling the police.” My son took photos of the license plate as the vehicle was fleeing the scene of the accident. The driver was the same in both incidents.

When the Lovell Police Department finally showed up, my son showed the police the photos of the vehicle fleeing the scene of the accident. The Police Department stated we would be given an email to send evidence to. An email was never provided, and the incident number was not given to us, either. The Lovell Police Department did not give the driver any consequences for her actions, even though she fled the scene of an accident. She did not call the police, so if the scooter had not saved my child, he could have been severely injured.

The patrol officer told my son it was his fault and stated, “Pedestrians do not have the right of way,” showing as proof a Google website. I am trying to teach my children to do the right thing in the right way. I see all children as innocent and would hope that they would be protected to the full extent of the law no matter their race, religion, color of their skin or the income bracket of their family. Unfortunately, that was not the case when it came to processing the hit and run involving my son. Lovell Police are aware that she is on illegal substances, her vision is impaired and that she does not have a license.

We have spoken to Lovell Police Chief Dan Laffin, who at first did not want to hear anything bad about the way his police force handled the incident. We spoke to Jed Nebel, Lovell’s town administrator, who told us he would help and would look into the incident. He could not believe what happened. So we contacted Senator Lummis’ office. The senator’s office seems to be the one office working to correct the situation.

I recently called for a status on my son’s case and received a voicemail (on October 27 at 8:41 a.m.) from Chief Laffin stating there was nothing he could do and that he “applied very carefully all the consideration that the law grants us, and at this point there is no criminal  implications that the law grants for criminal implications.” I called Chief Laffin back (on the same day as the voicemail) and asked why Wyoming statutes were not being addressed to include Wyoming Statute Title 31, Motor Vehicles 31-5-1101, Duty to stop vehicle where accident involves death or personal injuries; Penalties, which states in section (a), “The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or a death of any person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close there to as possible but shall then forthwith return to and remain at the scene of the accident until he has fulfilled the requirements of W.S. 31-5-1103. Every stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.” and section (b), “Any person failing to stop or to comply with subsection (a) of this section shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned not more than one (1) year, fined not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000.00) or both.”

I also cited Wyoming Statues Title 31 Motor Vehicles Chapter 5 – Regulation of traffic on highways – Article 2 – Operation of Vehicles Generally, Section 31-5-236 Careless Driving:

“Any person who drives any vehicle in a manner inconsistent with the exercise of due and diligent care normally exercised by a reasonably prudent person under similar circumstances and where such operation of a motor vehicle creates an unreasonable risk of harm to other persons or property is guilty of careless driving.”

Instead of Chief Dan Laffin being professional and answering my question, he chose to take offense and go off about how long he has been a police officer. I told the chief, “I am not doubting your years of service nor your experience in working cases.” I just want to know why Wyoming law is not being enforced. Chief Laffin chose not to answer my question and changed the subject.

I pray that no other family or child has to go through this. I have to explain to my children that there are good and bad people in any job or group of people. My kids don’t see the police as a safe place to go because police have failed to protect them. I want to urge others to come forward who have had similar interactions with this type of injustice. I pray that all children are protected equally, even though I have seen otherwise.

I know change will never happen without persistence. The change I am wanting is for our community to protect our future (our kids). God does not want his people to be weak but strong and stand up for what is right. (Job 33:5-6)

Jacqueline Torres