A military veteran who pleaded guilty to stealing an unmanned Summit Stage bus occupied by four passengers in February was sentenced to three years probation and 90 days of jail time at a hearing Monday.
Joshua Mock, 23, who took the wheel of a local bus when the driver stepped out for a bathroom break and drove it erratically up Montezuma Road before crashing into a snowbank, apologized in court to the victims who went along for the ride, according to a statement from the prosecutor’s office.
No one was injured and the bus was not damaged in the incident. One passenger slept through nearly the entire event, said deputy district attorney Kristine Word.
Mock, who previously served three years in the U.S. Army, was reportedly suffering from psychological problems when he took the bus. At the sentencing hearing, he stated at the time he thought he was just helping everyone get home.
“Mr. Mock is a military veteran who needs the help of the community to overcome his mental health issues,” District Attorney Bruce Brown stated in the release on the sentencing. “People who leave the service deserve special attention in getting access to the help they need. We are thankful that nobody was injured in this bizarre escapade.”
Mock pleaded guilty to motor vehicle theft and false imprisonment, both felonies, as well as reckless endangerment. Several kidnapping charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement.
Judge Karen Romeo sentenced him to three years probation for each of the felony counts and two years probation for the misdemeanor reckless endangerment charge as well as community service and a short jail stint, saying the crimes he committed did not appear to have been intentionally heinous, but did negatively impact the victims. She said Mock should treat the probation as assistance in his journey to recover his mental health, rather than a punishment, according to the statement.
Mock said he planned to leave Summit County but says he is committed to getting treatment.
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.
Mock’s attorney, public defender Owen Reed, said during prior hearings that the veteran’s family began to notice changes 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 Reed told a judge at a previous court appearance. “Once he was not in that structured environment, issues started to crop up.”
Mock is also facing charges of resisting arrest and motor vehicle trespassing, relating to an incident in Park County that occurred around the same time as the bus theft, according to the statement. He is out on a $1,000 bond and awaiting a July 8 plea hearing for those charge.
“People who leave the service deserve special attention in getting access to the help they need. We are thankful that nobody was injured in this bizarre escapade.”
District Attorney Bruce Brown