The Truth Behind Off-Roader Rights

The Truth Behind Off-Roader Rights

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Continuing our coverage of the off-roaders shot by an officer with the bureau of land management: officials claim the victims were on restricted land and didn’t comply with officers. So KMIR headed out to the desert, near the scene of the shooting, to see how difficult it is to even know when you are violating federal land rules.

“There should be no fear to practice this sport,” said Matt Schmidt, an independent contractor for Off-Road Rentals.

Fear that may be looming, after Pedro and Denise Mejia were shot by a Bureau of Land Management officer while off-roading on Berdoo Canyon Trail.

“What I remember the most was blood, blood everywhere. It was a horrible, horrible situation what they did…” recounted Pedro Mejia, one of the victims of the shooting.

The officer fired while the couple was on a restricted area, but they had a flat at were allegedly at a stop before he fired.

“The first thing my husband did was put his hands up and said we’re stopping we’re stopping and I immediately put my hands up too,” said Denise mejia, who was struck by a bullet on her finger and grazed by one on her head.

However,  Matt, who practices the sport, says this can be avoided, if you just keep a couple things in mind.

“Before you go off anywhere riding ATVs, first you never want to go alone, secondly you want to do maintenance, always check your tires, take a spare tire, always plan your trip ahead of time before you even go out and actually ride.”

So KMIR asked him how riders can tell the difference between a restricted and a non-restricted area?”

“A restricted area will have many things, will have personal patrolling it but the biggest thing you have to look out for are the signs, there will always be signs and and there will also be fencing as well.”

The couple claims there was no fencing or signs in the restricted area. So what should off-roaders do if they find themselves in a similar situation?

“If you are confronted by officers, stay where you are. Don’t run. Don’t go anywhere. Just stay where you are. Let them come to you and be as polite as possible. There should be no need for a bullet proof vest. You should be able to ride around in a t-shirt long shirt, short sleeve, shorts, pants, but always closed-toed shoes while you’re riding.”

All in an effort to avoid a case, like the one Pedro and Denise Mejia found themselves in, that night.

“She was screaming, I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die.”

There are several assigned off-roading areas you can enjoy….Ocotillo wells, Johnson Valley, and Glamis which is about 100 miles south of the valley.This case is still under investigation.