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2 cruisers damaged in state high-speed chases

By Kevin Harter
Pioneer Press

ST. CROIX COUNTY, Minn. — The St. Croix County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate a high-speed chase Saturday that resulted in minor injuries and damage to three vehicles, including two police cruisers, St. Croix County Sheriff Dennis Hillstead said today.

A 2005 Ford Crown Victoria driven by Woodbury police officer Jeff Gort, 47, was chasing a 2000 Dodge Durango east on Interstate 94 into Wisconsin Saturday about 2:43 a.m. when the crash happened.

The Durango, driven by Jared G. Boucher, 29, Somerset, swerved around two sets of Stop Sticks near Hudson as Wisconsin State Trooper Curtis Tomkowiak, 22, joined the pursuit in a 2007 Ford Crown Victoria, authorities said.

Traveling at speeds topping 80 miles an hour, the Durango ran another set of Stop Sticks put down about nine miles east of Hudson that deflated the vehicle's two front tires, authorities said. The driver came to a sudden stop at the 10.5-mile mark and blocked both eastbound lanes of traffic.

The Wisconsin trooper's car stopped behind and to the left of the Durango. And two St. Croix County squad cars that had joined the pursuit pulled behind and to the right of the Durango.

But the Woodbury cruisers, apparently unable to stop, struck the State Patrol car in the rear, officials said. The impact spun the trooper's car and pushed into the side of the Durango.

Boucher, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was taken to Hudson Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries and released. He was then booked into the St. Croix County Jail and will make his initial court appearance Tuesday. He faces felony charge of fleeing, attempting to elude police, and a misdemeanor charge of operating while impaired.

Tomkowiak and Gort, who were both wearing their seatbelts, were also treated and released. Both squad cars were extensively damaged. The Durango suffered moderate damage, according to the sheriff.

Copyright 2008 The Pioneer Press

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