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New Richmond man accused of drunken snowmobiling with child on board

Hegge Jr.

A New Richmond man was arrested late last month after allegedly driving a snowmobile drunk near barbed wire fencing with a child as his passenger.

St. Croix County prosecutors on Jan. 31 charged Dale W. Hegge Jr., with one count of second-degree recklessly endangering safety, a felony. He was also ticketed for operating a snowmobile while intoxicated. Hegge was released from jail Feb. 1 after posting $2,000 cash bond.

St. Croix County sheriff's deputies took to the ice on Clear Lake to arrest Hegge after residents loaned officers a snowmobile and a utility-terrain vehicle, which Sheriff Scott Knudson called "a tremendous help."

"Without their help, it probably would not have been resolved as quickly as it was and we may not have been able to locate him," he said.

According to a criminal complaint:

St. Croix County sheriff's deputies were called at 9:08 p.m. Jan. 30 to 1109 County Road H in the town of Star Prairie for a report of a drunken man and a child next to a snowmobile in a ditch. The man was leaving with the child on the snowmobile during the 911 call, dispatchers relayed.

Deputies arrived in the area and spoke with witnesses and residents, one of whom loaned a deputy her snowmobile to pursue the suspect out onto Clear Lake.

Working off another officer's report of the suspect's location, the deputy headed that way and found a snowmobile spinning in circles. The deputy got closer and discovered the snowmobile was spinning on a patch of clear ice, unable to get traction.

The deputy got off the loaned snowmobile and immediately disabled the cutoff switch on the suspect's sled before pulling the child from it. He placed the child on the loaned sled.

Fearing the suspect, later identified as Hegge, was attempting to restart his snowmobile, the deputy ordered the man off the sled. Hegge stood up, stretched out his arms and swore at the officer, prompting the deputy to take Hegge to the ice.

Another deputy later described Hegge as unsteady on his feet and unable to speak. He was taken by deputies to the Westfields Hospital parking garage for field sobriety tests, which indicated intoxication. Hegge was then arrested and jailed.

Deputies interviewed several witnesses, including a woman who came upon Hegge and the child in a ditch along County Road H. She said she found Hegge lying incoherent in the snow. A child with him told the woman they were lost after leaving a bar. The woman was eventually able to reach the child's mother by phone. Another passerby checking on the situation called 911 for fear of the child's safety.

A resident at 1171 County Road H told deputies she saw a snowmobile drive past her front door and toward her backyard, nearly running into a barbed wire fence.

The resident said the snowmobiler "was traveling recklessly and would not stop for anyone," the complaint states, which goes on to note the witness saying she feared "the operator was going to run into her barbed wire fence and hurt the child."

A preliminary hearing in the case was set for Feb. 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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