Petroleum dynamite: Police chief stranded again; empathetic motorist arrested

By Max Fontaine | Hard-news gas reporter

gas gauge empty
Police Chief Gwen “Tug” McNabb and a squad car entered a recurring loop last week. (Picture photo)

For the seventh time in the past 45 months, a squad car driven by Bass Lake Authority Chief Tug McNabb ran out of gas while on duty.

The latest incident occurred May 14 on Out-on-the-Highway Road, loosely connected to a seasonal hydrant flushing.

According to a press release from the Authority, “petroleum lines drained such that internal-combustion processes were unable to function as designed.”

McNabb simplified the matter in a brief verbal exchange with the Beacon.

“I was driving along, like usual, then — nothing,” McNabb said, “just like the other times it happened.”

Before McNabb had time to contact the police station for assistance, a driver — who had been following at a safe distance — stopped and gave the chief a ride into town to secure gasoline in an approved container.

“It was the least I could do for our men and women in blue,” the driver said later in a sworn statement.

The helpful traveler is currently in the Bass Lake Area jail, with a $45 bond. He faces charges of interfering with routine police protocol, a felonious misdemeanor. Bond was set at $50, then reduced because he purchased the gas with his own money when McNabb surmised he had left his wallet in the police cruiser.

“There was no time to go back and get it by that point,” McNabb said. “I’d just gotten some call about a bomb threat and had to investigate.”

Back at the scene, with the vehicle’s fuel supply temporarily restored, McNabb transported the motorist-suspect to the lock-up facility, as part of a plea agreement. As the chief began his drive back to the precinct, the car ran out of gas.

Based on Bass Lake town policy, McNabb now must attend a gas-gauge awareness class, somewhere within walking distance.

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