A Sperry, Iowa, businessman was hoping for sales, not drama. However, that’s just what Brad Deery, the owner of Deery Brothers car dealership, got this past week.
As reported by the Hawk Eye, drivers along U.S. Highway 61 near Sperry couldn’t help but notice what appeared to be a man sitting on a billboard sign. For some reason, the billboard sign itself seemed to be lost on the more alarmed drivers.
The billboard message clearly states, “From up here, I can see Deery of Burlington”.
Apparently, the advertisement was seen as little more than dark irony because early morning drivers phoned 911 over worries that there was a suicidal man sitting on a billboard sign. The “man” was, in fact, a mannequin, which had been placed on top of the billboard by the West Burlington car dealership.
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) January 23, 2015
That was information to which sheriff’s deputies were not privy when they were eventually sent out in the early Monday morning to verify reports of a possible suicide jumper.
“It was dark, [and deputies] couldn’t see [the prop clearly]. They assumed it was someone jumping, but at some point they realized the person was not responding to their commands.”
According to Sheriff Mike Johnstone, it was at that point that one of the deputies decided to get a better view of the alleged jumper. Through his binoculars, the man learned that the suicidal man was, in fact, a well-positioned and very convincing mannequin.
Even as the investigation was occurring, at least a dozen additional calls came into 911 over concern surrounding the dummy. Although, in reality, there was no harm or danger, the realistic mannequin on top of the billboard was causing enough of a stir that Johnstone opted to meet with the owner about it.
The sheriff met with Deery on Thursday over the billboard and mannequin. Deery, who had no idea that his stunt had caused so many people to frantically contact the authorities, felt that it was best to take the mannequin down off the billboard as soon as possible.
“The sheriff didn’t tell me to take it down, but when I heard about the 911 calls, [I] don’t want to be tying up a line.”
Deery learned a hard lesson about how obvious puns become less obvious when drivers can’t tell a mannequin from a potential jumper.
The car dealer said of the incident, “I’m here to sell cars, not get people hurt.”
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