A combination of luck and good judgment by law enforcement prevented a bad situation from turning into a deadly one on April 17.
While law enforcement officers pursued a car thief on April 17 they wisely ended a chase that saw the stolen vehicle travel at speeds of between 80 and 90 mph. The stolen car's high rate of speed continued as it left Baxter and headed into congested traffic on Washington Street in Brainerd.
The end result was a three-vehicle crash in the shadow of Brainerd's landmark water tower at Sixth and Washington streets. Two passengers in the stolen vehicle suffered head and face injuries. The uninjured driver was apprehended a few blocks away from the collision and later charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide and injury, fleeing a police officer and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
The chase involved the Brainerd Police Department, the Baxter Police Department and the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department.
How no one was killed in this dangerous scenario is almost beyond comprehension. The driver of the stolen car placed in jeopardy the lives of his passengers, law officers and any nearby motorists or pedestrians.
Brainerd Police Sgt. Dave Holtz explained that it's law enforcement policy call off a pursuit at high speed through congested traffic because of the danger it poses to other motorists. Instead, law officers did their best to track the suspect's whereabouts and were able to make the arrest.
The track record of people who run from the police is a poor one. Fleeing suspects almost always get caught. The procedure of holding back on chase efforts in order to ensure the safety of innocent people is a good one and we're thankful our area law officers follow that policy.
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