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Suspect in Willmar chase faces felony charge

WILLMAR — A 19-year-old Willmar man appeared Friday in Kandiyohi County District court on a charge that he led a sheriff's deputy on a high-speed chase Thursday night in Willmar.

The suspect appeared on a felony charge of fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle. He also faces misdemeanor charges of damage to property in the fourth degree, careless driving, and two petty misdemeanor charges for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. The court allowed his release on personal recognizance with conditions.

The driver was arrested Thursday night after the Jeep Wrangler he was allegedly driving crashed into a yard following a 1.2-mile pursuit by a Kandiyohi County sheriff's deputy. The incident began around 6:30 p.m. Thursday when a deputy attempted to stop a speeding vehicle on County Road 5, just north of the Willmar city limits.

According to the sheriff's report, the vehicle appeared to be increasing in speed as it traveled south into Willmar. According to the complaint, the suspect vehicle traveled at speeds of 76 to 84 miles per hour at times.

The deputy caught up with the vehicle by Voss Park but the suspect then turned west on First Avenue Northwest at a high rate of speed "in an attempt to elude the deputy," according to the Sheriff's Office.

The deputy pursued the vehicle before the suspect's vehicle ran off the road, crashed into a parked car, drove over a hedge and ended up in a yard.

There were no injuries and there was moderate damage to both vehicles.

The suspect allegedly told the arresting officer that he had gone home from work during a break to pick up some marijuana to smoke after work. He was speeding because he was late in returning. He said he had made a "very dumb decision'' and expressed remorse, the criminal complaint stated.

Tom Cherveny

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

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