A man accused of jumping behind the wheel of an occupied Summit Stage bus while the driver was on a bathroom break in February pleaded guilty Monday to several reduced charges.
Joshua Taylor Mock, 23, dodged several kidnapping charges by copping to aggravated motor vehicle theft, false imprisonment and reckless endangerment as part of a plea agreement with the district attorney’s office. The plea must be approved by a judge.
“This is a situation where Mr. Mock has accepted responsibility for his actions and the court, after getting an opportunity to consider the circumstances of the offense, will be in a position to hold him accountable in an appropriate fashion,” prosecutor Bruce Brown said.
Mock was arrested Feb. 29 after emergency dispatchers received several 911 calls from the four passengers on the bus, who said a ‘weird guy’ wearing a mask was driving the vehicle erratically up Montezuma Road near Keystone Resort. Wearing dark clothing and a black balaclava, Mock allegedly pulled away from the station at River Run Village in Keystone where the driver had left the bus running and headed up the winding back road, where he lost control and ran the coach into a snowbank.
Authorities later found Mock walking “calmly” away from the accident a half mile up the road, according to a release from the DA’s office.
Mock reportedly told law enforcement he was leaving a place where a “crazy guy stole a bus,” and that the suspect was “wearing a mask like me,” according to the statement.
He allegedly later said, “I hope you catch the guy.”
He was arrested and charged with four counts of kidnapping and several other offenses.
It does not appear alcohol played a role in the crime, but it is unclear whether Mock was dealing with mental health problems at the time.
“Certainly the circumstances of the case are concerning on that level,” Brown said. “Anytime somebody takes a bus to nowhere, it certainly raises red flags and we’re certainly wanting to see Mr. Mock, if appropriate, get the mental help he needs.”
The public defender representing Mock said the bus theft followed a shift in his behavior after he was honorably discharged from the Army.
“He has been living on his own without the structure of the military,” defense attorney Owen Reed told a judge at Mock’s last court appearance. “Once he was not in that structured environment, issues started to crop up.”
Mock reportedly spent 26 months of his 3 years in the service in South Korea. He has said he hopes to return to the Army when the case is resolved.
At that hearing, a judge agreed to reduce Mock’s bail from $50,000 to $10,000. The defense has filed another motion for bond reduction which will be heard May 30. A sentencing hearing is set for June 13.
Brown said the victims — the passengers on the bus — were consulted on and made aware of the plea agreement.
Mock could face up to six years in prison for the charge of aggravated motor vehicle theft, a Class 4 felony, an additional one to three years for the false imprisonment charge, a Class 5 felony, and six months in county jail for misdemeanor reckless endangerment.
He is still in custody at the Summit County Jail.