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OWI-fourth charged after St. Croix County crash

A power pole can be seen standing vertically after its bottom half was sheared off in a June 15 crash that authorities said was alcohol-related. Steve Engelhart / RiverTown Multimedia

A New Richmond man facing his fourth drunken-driving offense was arrested again after allegedly driving with alcohol in his system while on bond.

The incidents, which occurred 10 days apart, led to three felony charges against 41-year-old James R. Padelford. St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Eric Lundell held Padelford on $1,000 cash bond at a June 27 hearing on his most recent charges — operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration (fourth offense) and felony bail jumping.

The most recent incident occurred June 25, three days after Padelford had posted a $1,000 cash bond in his OWI-fourth case. In that incident, Padelford allegedly crashed into a power pole and took off running into the woods before walking out of the brush, where he met with officers and was later arrested.

According to a complaint from the June 15 incident:

Deputies were alerted by Emergency Support Services Director Steven T'Kach, who encountered a crash in the 1100 block of County Road A near Burkhardt. The crash led to a power pole being sheared off, the remaining portion falling upright into the ground.

T'Kach told St. Croix County sheriff's deputies he observed the driver "was not acting normal and had glossy red eyes" before watching him run off into some nearby woods.

A search of the crashed car revealed airbags had gone off and a container of spaghetti was resting on the center console.

Deputies launched a perimeter search for the driver until a man holding a lunch cooler emerged from a woodline and walked up to two deputies.

The man, identified as Padelford, told deputies he was responsible for the crash. He told deputies he ran off because he was scared and confused.

Padelford, who had spaghetti sauce on his lips, denied drinking alcohol after the crash, but admitted he was carrying a water bottle filled with vodka in his pocket. He told deputies he had consumed a couple of vodka shots at work at Nor-Lake.

He unsuccessfully performed field sobriety exercises before registering a 0.239 preliminary blood-alcohol in a breath test.

According to a criminal complaint from the June 25 incident:

Padelford reported to the St. Croix County Sheriff's Office day-reporting center for alcohol testing as part of his bond conditions, provisions of which included a 0.02 blood-alcohol limit. The test revealed a 0.037 blood-alcohol level.

Padelford told deputies he had driven his parents' car to the day-reporting center.

He returns to court July 16.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is a regional/enterprise reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage includes St. Croix County government, higher education and state politics in Wisconsin. 

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