Man accused of attacking officer with snowmobile
April 4, 2005
A mechanic for the Tahoe-Douglas Fire Department was arrested on suspicion of striking a forest protection officer with a snowmobile while trying to avoid a citation for riding in an off-limit area, authorities said.
Gregg Gemmet will be charged with felony aggravated assault and felony hit and run related to the Feb. 19 incident in an area near Freel Peak, according to the El Dorado County district attorney’s office.
Gemmet was contacted by the Tahoe Daily Tribune on Monday. He referred comments to his lawyer, Thomas Kolpacoff, who had no comment.
Gemmet is accused of clipping Ron Thompson of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit with his snowmobile. Thompson and his partner had tried to stop Gemmet and two companions in the Star Lake area.
“It shows an extreme lack of good judgment; it easily could have broken both of this guy’s legs,” said Hans Uthe, assistant district attorney for El Dorado County. “You think about the momentum of a 300 to 400 pound machine, he was just lucky that he rolled over the other side instead of under the machine.”
Following the alleged clipping, Thompson pursued Gemmet for a mile until he stopped again. Gemmet was arrested and booked into El Dorado County Jail. He has posted $15,000 bail.
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Uthe said he expects his office to file formal charges sometime this week. The charges carry a maximum 4-year prison time, but Uthe does not expect there to be a prison sentence in this case because the defendant has no prior history.
When approached by the officers, the three riders originally fled, leading to a pursuit by Thompson, authorities said. Gemmet then stopped, and as the officer prepared to make contact, after a brief moment, Gemmet revved the snowmobile toward the officer, ramming him in the knee, according to the Forest Service.
The other riders were never caught.
Thompson did not miss work but was put on lighter duty for a short period, and has since recovered. However, the district attorney’s office is still pursuing charges because of the seriousness of the alleged assault.
“This was a fairly significant situation,” said Doug Ridley, the off-highway vehicle coordinator for the basin. “We want people to know we are serious about enforcing these closures.”