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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TOWN OF ST. JOSEPH -- Two men playing paintball were seriously injured Friday in St. Croix County in a lightning strike. The men, whose identities were not immediately released, were taken by ambulance to Regions Hospital in St. Paul with what St. Croix County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Scott Knudson described as “very serious injuries.” The incident occurred in a wooded area at Splat Tag Inc. on County Road E in the town of St. Joseph.
ELLSWORTH — The Kentucky man who transported and dumped a box containing the body of a Prescott man is headed to prison. Pierce County Circuit Court Judge Joe Boles on Monday sentenced Clarence M. Hicks to three years in prison and seven years on extended supervision. The sentence followed a plea agreement between Hicks, his attorney and prosecution.
A western Wisconsin woman was critically injured Friday morning after her minivan crashed into an Ellsworth School District bus near Bay City. A Wisconsin State Patrol news release states a 55-year-old Nelson woman who was driving the minivan sustained life-threatening injuries in the crash, reported at 6:25 a.m. on Highway 35 at County Road D.
Two western Wisconsin men were hospitalized Monday after their vehicles collided in rural Pierce County. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said Matthew R. Dodge, 33, and Elwyn P. Keeler, 60, were taken by ambulance to River Falls Area Hospital after the crash, reported at about 6 a.m. in the town of Gilman.
ELLSWORTH — A gas station just paces away from Pierce County's law enforcement center might not be the most inconspicuous place for a drug deal, but prosecutors allege that's just what a trio of teens did last week. The young men were flanked by officers — including a nine-year veteran of the St. Croix Valley Drug Task Force pumping gas into his squad car — who watched them transact the sale of a quarter-pound of marijuana Thursday, March 9, according to charges filed in the case.
An Ellsworth man stole thousands of dollars in sand mine royalties from his father, according to charges filed last month in Pierce County Circuit Court. Richard L. Anderson was charged by summons Feb. 28 with felony theft from a vulnerable adult and receiving more than $10,000 in stolen property. His initial court appearance is set for April 10. According to a criminal complaint:
Two Minnesota men decided the night after the Super Bowl was a prime time to strike poker machines inside a Hager City bar, according to court documents outlining how the men allegedly conspired to commit the burglary. Pierce County prosecutors charged the men, Hastings resident Mark A. Smith and Lakeville resident Robert S. Huber, with burglary and felony criminal property damage. Smith, 30, and Huber, 31, are also charged with misdemeanor theft.
DUNN COUNTY -- A former Ellsworth man told authorities he believed his brother-in-law was about to harm him moments before he fired a fatal shot in the hallway of their Dunn County home late last year. The gunshot left 32-year-old Justin Dale Ogden dead and launched a 10-week investigation into the incident that on Friday resulted in a first-degree reckless homicide charge against Jerad A. Jones. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 60 years in prison.
A Plum City man was hospitalized after being injured Sunday, Jan. 15 in a snowmobile crash. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said 30-year-old Joshua Larson was taken by ambulance to Luther Hospital in Eau Claire after the crash, reported at 12:02 p.m. in the town of Union. According to deputies, Larson was on a snowmobile trail when he lost control and was thrown from the machine. He sustained injuries to his arm and leg, according to a news release.
Editor's note: This story is from January 2017.