Iowa billboard mannequin startles motorists, loses job

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 23, 2015 2:48 PM

(Reuters) - A car dealer is taking down an oversized mannequin that had been placed atop a roadside billboard advertisement in rural Iowa after a number of alarmed drivers called the 911 emergency number to report a man who looked like he was going to jump.

"I hate to take it down, but in the interest of public safety I decided to," Brad Deery, owner of 10 car dealerships in Iowa, told Reuters by telephone on Friday.

Deery said the sheriff in Des Moines County asked him to remove the mannequin because drivers were becoming distracted and that some could be tempted to try to climb the sign and take a selfie.

The billboard on U.S. Route 61 advertises Deery's West Burlington dealership. The sign reads "I can see Deery Toyota, Nissan, Mazda from here," Deery said.

The mannequin is posed as though it is looking off at distant car lots.

The Hawk Eye, a local newspaper, reported that the Des Moines County Sheriff's Department was concerned after receiving 911 calls and requested the removal of the mannequin. The department did not respond to a phone call requesting comment.

Deery said his business also took a lot of calls about the mannequin. "I like people talking about it. Hey, I'm in the business of selling cars. But it's done too good a job."

(Reporting by Fiona Ortiz in Chicago; Editing by Will Dunham)