10 Crazy Toll Booth Incidents

1A teen stripper on a rampage tried to pass fake bills at a toll

In June 2016, a Naugatuck, Connecticut woman tried to pass counterfeit $10 bills to a toll clerk at the George Washington Bridge in New York. When the driver, 19-year-old Willow Martin, was confronted by police, she claimed to have no license or other identification. During a search of her car, officers found 31 envelopes of heroin, 16 fake $10 bills, drug paraphernalia, and a butcher's cleaver. While in custody, Willow, who works as a stripper, was charged in an arson case where she is accused of setting fire to a business owned by a fellow dancer's father. Apparently, DNA that was found on a potato left in the tailpipe of his van led the police to the rampaging teen. Martin now faces a long list of arson, burglary, drug, and conspiracy charges.

2A driver left his camel blocking traffic at a toll booth

Toll booths are often the scene of arguments between collectors and customers over fees. In Chongqing, China, one frustrated man decided enough was enough and abandoned the camel he was transporting at a toll booth, blocking traffic and angering drivers. The dispute was over Chinese toll laws that provide free passage for vehicles carrying certain livestock—such as pigs and horses—but doesn't address hauling camels. Police were summoned, and the camel's owner was forced move his animal and pay a $30 fine.

3The opera singer who fell in love with a toll collector

On her routine drives to Carnegie Hall, Opera singer Sonya Baker fell in love with a toll collector, Mike Fazio. The two developed a relationship after months of short exchanges at Exit 19 of the New York State Thruway. Baker considered the state employee "desperately cute," and eventually slipped him a note with her phone number. It's all worked out great, and the couple has now been married for 16 years.

4The stray that became a mascot for the Colorado Turnpike

In Denver, along Interstate 36, there is a headstone marking the grave of "Shep the Turnpike Dog." Beginning in 1952, and for the next 14 years, the mixed-breed pooch would sit near the booth attendant, providing company and greeting motorists as they approached. No one knew his original owner, but he found a home at the booth, where drivers would bring food, bones, and toys, with some even paying extra to help with Shep's upkeep. Though the toll booths have long been torn down, the gravesite commemorating the beloved dog remains.

5A man shows a state worker sexy photos

Sometimes, exhibitionists will take advantage of the "captive audience"  provided by toll booth workers. In 2012, in what is not an uncommon ploy, a driver on the Kansas Turnpike was intentionally leaving lewd photos in plain sight for his favorite toll clerk to see. After a few months of harassment, the worker finally complained to the highway patrol, and a sting was set up to catch him in the act. The man was promptly arrested for indecent exposure and drug possession.

6Greek protesters burned down a toll plaza

In Athens, Greece, 500 protesters set fire to a toll plaza and chanted anti-government slogans about nearly tripled fees. After the price had been raised from $.74 to $1.97, irate travelers complained that they were being gouged and that the money wasn't being spent on the poorly maintained roads. 

"Whoever obstructs passage through the tolls is acting to the detriment of the Greek people," claimed the Greek Minister of Transport. However, the rally was somewhat useful—officials have waived the increase for everyday commuters.

7A teen's gruesome car crash photos sparked a controversy

18-year-old Nikki Catsouras was the daughter of a wealthy Greek family who, after arguing with her parents, took off in their Porsche sports car. Fueled by cocaine, she crashed into a toll booth in Lake Forest, California and was killed instantly. The photos from the terrible accident were leaked, showing her split head, and bloodied remains. They were so graphic that, after it was discovered they were leaked by a pair of police officials, the family filed a lawsuit. A long legal battle ensued, with the family finally receiving $2.37 million in a settlement in 2012, six years after the crash.

8A retired state trooper tried to pull off an audacious armed robbery

In March 2016, former Pennsylvania State Trooper Clarence D. Briggs, 55, was shot after exchanging fire with authorities. At a remote toll interchange, Clarence had planned on robbing an armored vehicle while it was being loaded with collected receipts. After two workers that he had tied up had attempted to escape, the ex-cop shot and killed them, then drove away with the security truck filled with cash. While loading the stolen loot into his own truck, troopers arrived, and Briggs began a gun battle with them that ultimately cost him his life.

9A fire truck bursts into flames at the Canadian border

In April 2017, in what has to be a bit of an international embarrassment, an old U.S. fire truck from Kansas City that was being delivered to a Canadian fire department, became engulfed in flames as it stood at the border toll. No one was hurt, and no one seemed to know what caused the fire to erupt, or at least the reason wasn't made public.

10The toll booth operators who work with daily harassment from drivers

Stuck for hours in a glass booth, the women toll collectors for the NYS Thruway Authority have become used to receiving a barrage of lecherous stares, crude gestures, sexual come-ons and exposed genitals. Some claim to purposefully appear unattractive to discourage aggressive male drivers, with one woman even saying she put on weight to dissuade potential problems. The NYSTA denies they ignore complaints, but as one worker's rights representative said, “If the case was that everybody would make a complaint every time that somebody said something they didn't appreciate or they found to be harassment of a sexual manner, there would be a million complaints.”

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