Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker
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A Twin Cities man who told authorities he fell asleep at the wheel was hospitalized Sunday after a rural Hager City crash. The crash, reported at 1:20 a.m. Sept. 9 on County Road D in the town of Trenton, resulted in Burnsville resident Austin Smith being transported to Mayo Clinic Health System-Red Wing. Smith, 29, told Pierce County Sheriff's Office deputies he fell asleep while driving before crashing into a culvert, which sent his 2016 Nissan Versa airborne and into a ditch. Deputies were assisted by Red Wing ambulance and Wisconsin State Patrol.
The woman living at the Pierce County property where more than 1,300 animals were removed amid dog- and cock-fighting suspicions tried sneaking a safe containing 5 pounds of methamphetamine out of the house, according to authorities.
ELLSWORTH — The 24-year-old roofer accused of killing his coworker with a power saw at a River Falls-area job site pleaded not guilty this week to homicide and mayhem charges. St. Louis, Mo., resident Miguel A. Navarro entered the pleas Sept. 5 after a preliminary hearing that moved the case into trial phase. Pierce County Circuit Court Judge Joe Boles set the case for a six-day jury trial beginning May 31, 2019.
Animal rescues and arrests followed the discovery of an alleged dog- and cock-fighting operation where suspected drugs were also found last week in rural Pierce County. Officials from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) — who spent days assisting law enforcement at a 7789 County Road BB farm — announced Thursday that 1,300 animals were found there. A news release said most of the animals were chickens, along with more than a dozen dogs allegedly bred for fighting.
A motorcycle crash Sunday in rural Prescott left a 48-year-old Twin Cities woman dead. The Pierce County Sheriff's Office identified the deceased as Ramsey, Minn., resident Kelly Jo Imsande. According to a news release, deputies were called at 4:58 p.m. Sept. 2 to Highway 35 near 1240th Street in the town of Oak Grove for a single motorcycle crash. Investigation revealed Imsande was northbound on Highway 35 when she lost control of her 2016 Harley-Davidson FLHR Road King, crashed into a guardrail and was thrown from the bike.
Fire destroyed a barn early Friday in rural Ellsworth. Ellsworth firefighters responded at about 4:30 a.m. to W6656 340th Ave. in the town of Hartland for a report of a barn on fire. Dan Jensen, an assistant Ellsworth fire chief, said a portion of the roof collapsed before firefighters arrived. He said the structure was mainly used for storage — there were no animals or people inside at the time. A vehicle parked inside the barn was also destroyed in the fire, Jensen said. No firefighters were injured while battling the blaze.
WOODBURY — A bust that began with man caught toting a mattress out of a JC Penney store opened a Pandora’s Box of stolen loot that two of Washington County’s most tenured prosecutors said was the largest such retail crime ring they’ve seen.
Almost 50 methamphetamine pipes, moldy food containers and bags of garbage packed a rural Ellsworth home where authorities removed a child and arrested two people who were later charged with multiple crimes.
A roofer fatally attacked a coworker at a River Falls-area job site with a saw, authorities said Tuesday. The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said a 37-year-old man died at the scene and a 24-year-old suspect was arrested on suspicion of first-degree intentional homicide. The deceased was identified as St. Louis, Mo., resident Israel Valles-Flores.
A teenage girl died Wednesday after the off-road vehicle she was in crashed along Highway 35 in Pepin County. The Pepin County Sheriff's Office said a utility vehicle crash was reported at 5:54 p.m. July 18 at W9557 Highway 35 in the town of Pepin. The victim was described as a 14-year-old girl. Her name was withheld pending family notification. Deputies said the girl was found with life-threatening injuries and was taken to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Wabasha, where she was pronounced dead.