Washougal mayor is accused of using emergency lights in Christmas Eve traffic incident

Sean Guard said high beams were used to influence slower drivers

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Sean Guard

Washougal Mayor Sean Guard is accused of using emergency lights on a city-owned vehicle to persuade highway traffic to move out of the left lane on Christmas Eve.

Guard said the car – a 1995 Ford Taurus previously driven by former Police Chief Bob Garwood – does not have emergency lights. However, he said he was alternating between the use of no front lights to high beams to get the attention of drivers who were traveling in front of him at speeds lower than the speed limit.

“It was 3:30 and rainy,” Guard said Thursday.

A state patrol trooper stopped Guard along I-5 near Kelso.

Guard said he turned on the vehicle’s hazard lights when he was pulled over.

“I did not get a ticket or anything,” he said. “He cautioned me to not flash high beams.

“The left lane is the passing lane,” Guard added. “That’s the way I drive. There are signs along I-5 that say the left lane is for passing only.”

He said the trooper told him to go into the right lane of the three lane highway to pass other vehicles.

“Driving laws must have changed,” Guard said. “I was taught you don’t pass on the right.”

He was a Camas reserve police officer for approximately five years in the 1980s.

At the time of the traffic stop, Guard was traveling to the South Tacoma area with a woman and two children.

He has declined to identify them.

“My wife knows who they are,” Guard said. “They are individuals who are not unknown to our family.”

He said they had been out to breakfast and Christmas shopping.

Guard said his wife Annie had stayed behind at home to take care of Christmas Eve preparations.

City policies allow staff to use city vehicles for “some personal use,” according to Guard.

“It has never been defined,” he said. “That was my biggest error in judgement. I would probably have taken my wife’s vehicle.”

Since the incident city shop employees have disabled the hazard lights on the Taurus, and they will soon remove control switches near the steering wheel.

“There are a lot of parts and pieces, but none of them work,” Guard said.

Additional information will be included in the Jan. 4 print edition of the Post-Record.