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Suspect allegedly flees, calls cops after freeze

Kenneth R. Shutes Jr.

The trail for a New Richmond man who allegedly bolted from authorities went cold last week.

Too cold, in fact, according to court records.

A criminal complaint against Kenneth R. Shutes Jr. states he ran from a Feb. 6 traffic stop, but eventually called 911 to report he was so cold he needed an ambulance.

Officers eventually found Shutes in the middle of a frozen swamp in rural Star Prairie, where he reported he couldn't walk amid subzero temperatures. The effort required fire and rescue assistance to remove Shutes from the area, described as being surrounded by steep terrain and dense woods.

Shutes was later charged in St. Croix County Circuit Court with three misdemeanors stemming from the incident — failure to obey an officer, marijuana possession and obstructing an officer. Shutes, described in a criminal complaint as cooperative and apologetic after being found by officers, pleaded not guilty to the charges during his Feb. 6 initial court appearance, where he was released from custody on a signature bond.

According to the complaint:

A St. Croix County sheriff's deputy attempted a traffic stop at 12:09 a.m. on County Road C after learning the car was registered to a revoked driver. The car pulled into River's Edge Campground and sped past stop signs on the property before returning to the county road.

The car led the deputy on a half-mile pursuit before turning into a private driveway, where the driver — later identified as Shutes — got out and ran. He tried jumping a barbed-wire fence but tripped on a wooden post, the impact from which caused him to trip over the fence. Shutes was last seen running into an open field toward some woods when the deputy called for a perimeter to be formed.

A small amount of pot and suspected drug paraphernalia was found in the car while officers were out looking for Shutes.

As temperatures sank to minus-8, dispatchers received a 911 call at 1:05 a.m. from Shutes, reporting he was cold and in need of an ambulance. Deputies tracked his phone to a swamp about one-third of a mile from the traffic stop.

Shutes was taken to Westfields Hospital before being jailed.

"Kenneth stated he 'needed' an incident like this because he was making poor decisions in his life," the deputy wrote in his report.

Shutes returns to court March 21.

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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