Morris ticketed in Fruitridge overpass case

·3 min read

Jul. 11—A special prosecutor has issued a citation seeking a $5 fine and $135 court costs against Vigo County Commissioner Mike Morris, who parked a semi truck and trailer on the Fruitridge Avenue overpass over Interstate 70 on March 1 as he and others cheered a convoy en route to Washington.

The Class C infraction charge is for "parking not allowing for unobstructed passage of vehicle and a clear view of stopped vehicle."

The citation, issued July 1, alleges Morris "stopped, parked, or left a vehicle without leaving a sufficient unobstructed width of the roadway opposite the vehicle for the free passage of other vehicles and a clear view of the stopped vehicle from a distance of 200 feet in each direction," in violation of Indiana Code 9-21-16-2.

A court hearing has been set for Sept. 20 at 8:30 a.m.

The fine for the infraction can range from zero to $500.

Terre Haute City Court Judge Kenneth McVey on Monday made the infraction part of the court's violation bureau, meaning the defendant can pay the fine and costs without appearing, said Terre Haute City Clerk Michelle Edwards, who is clerk of the city court. If Morris wants to contest the citation, the court date remains set.

Contacted Monday, Morris said he has hired Richard J. Shagley II as his attorney.

"This is the first I have heard of it and will just have to look at it. I will get with Richard to see what he has in mind," Morris said.

"I am surprised about the whole thing," Morris, 71, said of being issued the citation.

Contacted Monday, Shagley said he has not yet seen the citation and has not determined a course of action.

Deputy Prosecutor John Meyers of Tippecanoe County was appointed in response to a request from the Vigo County prosecutor's office for a review of the actions by Morris, who is owner of Morris Trucking in Terre Haute.

A petition for appointment of a special prosecutor was filed March 4 by Chief Deputy Prosecutor Rob Roberts to investigate "the report of possible obstruction of traffic or other offenses" as an infraction or misdemeanor.

The petition filed by Roberts said a police officer saw a Jeep, a large tow truck and a Morris Trucking semi blocking the southbound lane of the county road passing over I-70 when the officer responded to a report of the road being blocked.

The tow truck belonged to Edington Towing and the semi belonged to Morris. The semi trailer displayed a large Trump/Pence banner on both sides.

Dozens of people were standing along the west-facing rails of the bridge waving flags in support of a vehicle convoy when city police officers arrived to assess the scene.

A convoy of trucks and other vehicles traveled across the country to Washington, D.C., to protest COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates and related political issues. Many overpasses along the route were gathering places for supporters who cheered and waved to the convoy.

On Monday, Morris added that he "enjoyed it. It was a good time watching people in my industry. It was an enjoyable time."

Vigo County Sheriff John Plasse said his department simply investigated the scene and turned information over to the prosecutor.

"It is up to the prosecutor to determine what charges are filed," Plasse said Monday.

The Tribune-Star on Monday contacted the Tippecanoe Prosecutor's office, which provided an email to submit a question for the special prosecutor. A email was sent to that address seeking comment, and email was sent to the email listed for Meyer's court appearance as special prosecutor in the case.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.