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High-speed chase suspect charged

The vehicle involved in the high speed chase last week for which charges were brought this week. (Contributed photo)

A stolen bottle of booze led to an interstate police chase that involved five law enforcement agencies and ended with two arrests, authorities said.

After the high-speed pursuit June 21 from New Richmond to Cottage Grove, Minn., police arrested Ryan James Saiko, 22, of Somerset, and Amanda Elizabeth Webster, 19, of Stillwater, on suspicion of fleeing police in a motor vehicle and motor vehicle theft, both felony charges.

They were booked into the Washington County (Minn.) jail.

Saiko was charged Thursday, June 30, in Polk County Circuit Court with one count of gas station fraud. Information on what charges, if any, either Saiko or Webster may face in Minnesota were not available as of the press deadline.

The pursuit started just before 10 a.m. after a reported liquor theft in New Richmond, Cottage Grove police Capt. Greg Rinzel said.

The chase began in New Richmond, according to Craig Yehlik, the city’s police chief.

He said that his department was first made aware of a gas drive-off from a rural gas station in Polk County.

Yehlik said a short time later New Richmond officers were called to investigate the theft of alcohol from a New Richmond business located on West 4th Street. When arriving, officers discovered that the physical description of the male driver matched that from the Polk County incident. In addition, the license plate information secured by officers matched that of a vehicle that had been stolen out of Oak Park Heights, Washington County, Minn.

Just before 10 a.m., the New Richmond officers located the suspect vehicle in the area of West Richmond Way and South Knowles Avenue on the south side of the city.

With the assistance of a St. Croix County deputy, the New Richmond officers made a stop of the vehicle and, according to Yehlik’s report, the suspect stopped briefly on Madison Avenue but then sped away.

Officers pursued the suspect along Madison Avenue to West 8th Street and then onto County Hwy. A where they continued pursuit.

New Richmond officers continued their pursuit for about 12 miles. Yehlik indicated that with enough county personnel in pursuit, the city officers discontinued their pursuit and returned to the city.

The vehicle — which had the No. 51 painted on its driver’s side — was next seen by officers at a drive-thru at the Culver’s restaurant in New Richmond.

New Richmond officers gave pursuit after the vehicle left the restaurant and were joined by St. Croix County sheriff’s deputies.

According to a St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office report, deputies attempted to place spike strips in the roadway. Chief Deputy Scott Knudson said six attempts to place the strips were made during the pursuit on rural Wisconsin roads.

At each turn, the driver evaded the strips.

“It wasn’t for lack of trying,” Knudson said, noting that a deputy’s attempt to stop the driver using the precision immobilization technique couldn’t be used due to high speeds and traffic on the roadways.

Knudson suspected the driver might have been monitoring police radio traffic using a mobile device.

A motorist not involved in the chase drove over spikes at County Road A and 130th Avenue in St. Croix County. Knudson said the county would reimburse the vehicle’s owner for the damage.

The pursuit crossed Interstate 94 into Minnesota shortly before 11 a.m. State troopers followed the vehicle westbound into Woodbury. The suspects exited the interstate at Radio Drive and traveled southbound through a busy commercial district at speeds up to 100 mph, police reported during the chase.

The suspects continued south on Radio Drive as it becomes Hinton Avenue in Cottage Grove. Authorities called off the chase around Hinton Avenue and 65th Street, and lost sight of the vehicle around 70th Street, Cottage Grove police Capt. Greg Rinzel said.

Officers from Cottage Grove and Woodbury patrolled neighborhoods and found the unoccupied vehicle at Oakwood Park in Cottage Grove. A Woodbury officer then found the suspects walking near 79th Street and Hemingway Avenue. They were arrested about 11:20 a.m.

It was not immediately clear who had been driving, but both admitted to being in the vehicle, Rinzel said.

The vehicle had been reported stolen in Oak Park Heights, Minn.

Knudson said formal charges were likely to be filed in St. Croix County.

Raymond T. Rivard contributed to this article.

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