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Ryan Johnson, Published January 06 2013

Man apparently dies of hypothermia after fleeing scene of chase

FELTON, Minn. – A high-speed police chase near here early Saturday morning turned deadly when one of the vehicle’s occupants fled on foot and apparently died from hypothermia, something officers didn’t realize until his body was found Sunday afternoon.

Sgt. Darin Bredman said a Clay County sheriff’s deputy was patrolling state Highway 9 south of Felton when he turned around to check on a passing northbound car shortly after 1:30 a.m. The driver took off, turning onto Clay County Road 108 and shortly after driving off the roadway into an area near gravel pits where the road ends.

When the deputy arrived at the car, one occupant was inside and two separate sets of tracks in the snow were heading different directions. Bredman said the person complained of pain but refused treatment and didn’t cooperate with the investigation.

Deputies tried to follow the tracks on foot, but eventually had to stop the late-night search because of the cold conditions.

The incident took a surprising turn Saturday evening when the registered owner of the vehicle, who previously wasn’t cooperating with authorities, called the sheriff’s office to say they couldn’t find one of the two people who had left the vehicle.

Because of the cold weather, a search for the missing man didn’t start until around noon Sunday.

Bredman said deputies followed the southbound tracks, finding a spot where they believe one occupant was picked up by another vehicle, and then followed the northbound tracks until they found the man’s body shortly before 4 p.m.

He said the man has been identified and his family was notified, but authorities weren’t releasing the man’s name Sunday evening.

Bredman said authorities believe they have figured out the other person in the car at the time.

But the investigation is ongoing, and deputies haven’t yet determined which occupant was driving.

No charges have been filed yet, he said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587