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Lac qui Parle County charges two men after accidents involving stolen vehicles

MADISON — Lac qui Parle County has charged two out-of-state men with felony counts of receiving stolen property and aiding and abetting theft following accidents in which two stolen vehicles were involved.

David Dwight Drake, who turns 38 on Friday, of Odessa, Texas, and Austin Alfred Hall, 19, of New Salisbury, Indiana, were arrested June 28 after officers with the Lac qui Parle Sheriff’s Office and Minnesota State Patrol responded to separate accidents during the morning.

The two defendants were arraigned on the charges Wednesday in Lac qui Parle County. Bail was set at $25,000 with conditions and $50,000 without conditions for each.

The criminal complaint states that Deputy Sheriff Brian Benck responded to a two-vehicle accident reported at 5:26 a.m. on June 28 one mile north of Bellingham. On his way there, he was notified that the Sheriff’s Office had just received reports of two separate vehicle thefts.

A rural Bellingham woman reported that her 1994 Oldsmobile minivan had been stolen from her garage. The second report came from a rural Bellingham man who is also a member of the local fire department. He discovered as he dressed to respond to the fire at the accident scene that his 2006 Chevrolet Silverado pickup was stolen.

Benck discovered the stolen minivan at the accident scene, destroyed by fire. At the site he also found a Cadillac Escalade pickup with Texas license plates registered to Drake. It appeared there was gas running down the side of it and underneath it, and there was a white lighter and a small piece of tissue paper with what appeared to be blood on it.

Shortly after, Minnesota State Trooper Kathy Dingman responded to an accident report five miles north of Ortonville on U.S. Highway 75. The missing pickup had been rolled over.

The trooper learned that two men covered in blood had been seen walking from the site.

Both officers caught up with the suspects. They saw them enter a grove and then lie down in a cornfield when they apparently spotted the officers.

Taken into custody, the men said they had been in a vehicle driven by a woman they did not know and that they believed she left the accident scene. They said they had met at a bar in Odessa, Minn., where some men had also “overpowered” them.

The bar owner said the men had come to the bar before and after attending the rodeo in Clear Lake, S.D. He said that they had not met or left the bar with a woman, and that no fight had occurred. The men had attempted to come back in the bar after it was closed and the bartender had to call the owner for help because they were pounding on the door, according to the complaint.

The bartender said the two men had returned from the rodeo, claiming they had been stopped by a state trooper in South Dakota and were surprised not to have been arrested for drunken driving and that brass knuckles and knives they had with them were not discovered.

According to the complaints, Texas has a warrant for the arrest of Drake and will seek extradition, and Indiana has a warrant for Hall but will not seek extradition.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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