Omaha police: Only law enforcement in Cpl. Page motorcade for safety reasons
Patriot Guard Riders say they’ll follow behind motorcade.
OMAHA, Neb. — Omaha police said it’s not safe to have hundreds of motorcycles on the route that will only be blocked off for the fallen Marine Cpl. Daegan Page and his family to pass. The Patriot Guard Riders said it’s their honor to pay tribute to Page and still plan to follow the motorcade.
“I’m a bit flabbergasted with the decision. It really took me by surprise,” said Scott Knudsen, Nebraska State Captain, Patriot Guard Riders.
Knudsen and other Patriot Guard Riders said they’ve never been denied a place in a military motorcade and asked Page’s father for permission to be part of Friday’s event.
“We never go anywhere unless we are invited. We always seek out permission to achieve permission from appropriate people,” Knudsen said.
But Omaha police asked all groups to stay out of the motorcade for safety reasons, disappointing Knudsen and hundreds of riders coming from Western Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa.
“It’s really a shame that it has come to this, but we are in different times today. I don’t know all the details I’m certainly not blaming the Omaha Police Department or the sheriff’s department or anybody else,” Knudsen said.
“We decided for safety sake and not tie up the intersection,” said Steve Lahrs, Director of American Legions Millard Post.
Millard American Legion Riders were planning to join the escort to honor the fallen Marine until police asked them to stay parked on the sidelines.
“They are short-staffed and short-manned and it would create too much of a havoc for the city of Omaha to have hundreds of bikers blocking intersections,” Lahrs said.
In a statement to KETV, Omaha police said once again the decision is about safety.
“The ultimate goal for tomorrow’s motorcade escort of Marine Corporal Daegan Page is to safely transport him and his family from Eppley Airfield to the mortuary in Millard. We understand there are many organizations who want to assist us in this endeavor. We appreciate that and thank you. However, this motorcade is not a procession or parade. The route will be open, meaning traffic will be temporarily stopped just ahead of the motorcade to allow it to pass smoothly and safely. Once the motorcade is passed, traffic will again flow as normal. Only trained law enforcement officers with vehicles equipped with lights and sirens will be assisting with the motorcade to ensure the safety of all involved along the nearly seventeen mile route. We encourage the public to support Cpl. Page and his family along the route of the motorcade.
“On Friday, September 17th, the date of the funeral, there will be a closed route from St. Paul Lutheran Church to the Omaha National Cemetery. A closed route will allow the opportunity for organizations to safely assist with the procession at that time.”
That message came from Lt. Neal Bonnacci.
“We are absolutely not going to violate any laws and absolutely not go against their wishes and need to respect that and I do respect that,” Knudsen said.
“We start losing the reasoning behind the whole motorcade and it’s to show respect for the family and show respect for Cpl. Page,” Lahrs said.
Bonnacci also gave some safety tips to citizens wanting to pay honor on the motorcade route.
Citizens are encouraged to show their support along the route of the motorcade, but are reminded to allow room for the vehicles, and be mindful of the following:
• Park in compliance with parking regulations
• Ask permission before parking in private business parking lots
• Do not block private driveways
• Be patient if in traffic, and expect delays along the route
• Do not illegally park along the route, block intersections or impede the motorcade. Citizens are encouraged to utilize interstate overpasses for viewing, rather than stopping alongside the interstate.