A 17-year-old patient at a northeast Brainerd group home led police on a chase Saturday after stealing a state van and crashing it in Motley.
The van was reported stolen by staff at 6 p.m. Saturday, Brainerd Police Chief John Bolduc said, after the juvenile took the keys out of an unlocked office.
The van was spotted in Pillager, and a Pillager police officer began pursuing the juvenile on Highway 210. Brainerd and Baxter units joined the pursuit shortly after the van was spotted.
Bolduc said officers involved in the pursuit reported the juvenile forced other motorists off the road at high rates of speed.
"We're lucky no one got hurt," said Bolduc.
The chase ended after the juvenile lost control of the van and rolled it at Highways 210 and 10 in Motley. No one was injured in the pursuit or crash.
The case has been referred to the Crow Wing County Attorney for possible charges.
It was not the first time the police have had to deal with the juvenile, Bolduc said. The juvenile, a ward of the state, was living at the Brainerd Regional Human Services Center, Bolduc said, and several times police officers had been called to assist hospital staffers in controlling the 17-year-old.
Bolduc said the juvenile was moved to a northeast Brainerd group home run by BRHSC as part of an experimental program, said Bolduc.
Brainerd City Council member Bob Olson said he has received several calls from the public about the juvenile and brought the issue up at both the Oct. 1 and Monday city council meetings.
Olson said Bolduc was being evasive at the Oct. 1 meeting because he didn't answer Olson's questions about the juvenile immediately, but Bolduc said anytime it comes to the identification of a juvenile, law enforcement has to abide by Minnesota Data Practices law concerning juvenile patients.
"We have to be cautious," Bolduc said. "Some citizens and council members have asked us to do something about this, but it's out of our control. You'd have to ask (BRHSC) or state legislators," if anything could be done about the juvenile while at the home.
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