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Polk County man drives on frozen St. Croix to escape police

A Polk County man knew his rights and apparently believed they gave him permission not to cooperate with police just after midnight Sunday. But actions taken by the man have landed him in jail.

James S. Meyer, 60, believed to be from St. Croix Falls, was taken into custody in Lakeland around 4 a.m. Sunday after he led police on a chase through the west side of North Hudson and onto the St. Croix River at Ferry Landing Park.

According to a release from the North Hudson Police Department,at approximately 12:48 a.m. Sunday, a NHPD officer was patrolling the area of Fox Tree Lane N. and Sommers Landing Road N. when he located a running vehicle parked in the middle of the street.

At first the officer thought the vehicle was unoccupied but quickly discovered Meyer reclined and asleep in the driver's seat with the radio volume turned up.

The officer knocked loudly on the window and woke Meyer to investigate why he was sleeping in a running car parked in the middle of the street. Meyer rolled down his window a couple of inches and provided the officer with his Wisconsin driver's license. He then locked his car doors and refused to exit, despite numerous requests to do so by the officer.

While the officer was attempting to get information from Meyer, all law enforcement in the Hudson area received information from the St. Croix Falls Police Department via the Polk County dispatch, that Meyer had recently "been aggressive toward law enforcement" in Polk County during a contact where he was the reported victim.

Officers from the Hudson Police Department and the St. Croix County Sheriff's Department joined NHPD in an effort to convince Meyer to cooperate so they could determine the nature of his condition, both mental and physical. Meyer refused to exit the vehicle, but continued to read information from a prepared card advising he knew his rights.

When officers attempted to get into the vehicle through a passenger door around 2 a.m., Meyer started the engine and backed into a North Hudson Police Department squad car and drove off, missing a sheriff's deputy car parked in front of him.

Followed by cars from all three agencies, at first Meyer drove slowly, about 25 miles per hour,south on Sixith Street N. to Monroe Street N. then onto side streets to Wisconsin Street. N. and finally north onto Galahad Road where he speeded up to 70 miles per hour on a clear road with no traffic according to police.

Meyer turned into Ferry Landing Park where he drove onto the frozen St. Croix River. Police broke off their pursuit at that time. Meyer then turned off all the lights on his vehicle and drove south toward an area of known open water, near the Union Pacific Railroad swing bridge, just west of St. Croix Street in the City of Hudson.

Local officers requested the Bayport, Minn. police department and the Washington County Sheriff's Department to monitor the access points to that side of the river to attempt to locate Meyer.

Fearing that Meyer may have driven into open water near the park, a Minnesota State Patrol helicopter was requested to assist in locating Meyer's vehicle. Their search of the area found hundreds of vehicle tracks on the ice but no sign of Meyer or his car.

Meyer's vehicle was located several hours later at a residence in Lakeland, Minn., around 5 a.m. by Washington County Sheriff's deputies. He was taken into custody on charges stemming from the pursuit in Wisconsin. He was transported to the Washington County Jail in Stillwater, Minn. to await extradition proceedings.

NHPD Police Chief Mark Richert commended the actions of all the agencies involved in the incident citing their professionalism.

"Their skilled assistance allowed this incident to end without injury to the suspect, officers involved and most importantly no injury or property damage incurred by the general public," said Richert.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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