Park Rapids officer injured after being dragged by shoplifting suspect in high speed getaway attempt
PARK RAPIDS, Minn. - A Park Rapids police officer was injured trying to detain a shoplifting suspect Tuesday afternoon, who then led police on a high speed chase through Park Rapids.
Carrie Parks was dragged nearly two blocks through the Walmart parking lot as she tried to grab the keys and turn off the ignition when the suspect became uncooperative and indicated she wanted to leave.
Police Chief Terry Eilers said she will be OK, but lost much of the skin on one leg and foot.
"Carrie reached in to grab the woman's keys and she put it into gear and took off," officer Dan Garner said of the suspect.
"She drug her through the parking lot and over the embankment by L&M. Then she took a right, went west over the berm," Garner added.
Parks fell off the car or let go by the stop sign at S&L Outlet on the corner of Henrietta Avenue.
Garner meanwhile pursued the vehicle along with other law officers dispatched. The woman went westbound on Highway 34, then turned north on County Road 1, speeding through a residential neighborhood.
"The chase was on," Eilers said, who joined the posse around 1:45.
"We were going 85 to 90," Garner said. "She stayed in the oncoming lane," and nearly had a head-on crash with an oncoming motorist.
Garner said he tried to get the vehicle into its own lane while vehicles were hitting the ditch to get away from the oncoming suspect.
Near Headwaters Country Club, Bonita Larson had just finished a round of golf and was going to pick up husband Wayne.
She was southbound on County 1.
"She was in my lane so I tried to go into the ditch," a shaken Bonita Larson said. Larson was driving a "brand new" Honda CRV.
"She still hit me and followed me into the ditch," Bonita Larson said of her harrowing experience.
Husband Wayne kept a protective arm around Bonita while she gave a statement to the State Patrol.
"It was like watching a TV show," Bonita Larson said, shaking her head.
Her CRV suffered extensive damage as the oncoming car ripped the left rear wheel off the SUV and continued across the roadway into the ditch. Larson's vehicle was spun around.
"She was pretty combative," Garner said of the suspect when the chase stopped. "She was gonna run me right over. She tried to lock the door of the vehicle but I extracted her from it and put restraints on her. She appeared to have superficial injuries."
The suspect's vehicle was also heavily damaged on the left side.
"I thought she was going to hit it head on," Garner said of the other vehicle that had a close call during the chase. "Then she clipped her," he said pointing to the Larson vehicle.
"Oh yeah, I'm a little sore," Bonita Larson said, holding her right arm.
The woman's name will be released sometime later today, Eilers suggested.
The investigation continues and numerous charges are pending.
Parks had to accompany the woman to jail because a female officer must escort female prisoners, Eilers said. Then she was going to be checked out at St. Joseph's Area Health Services.