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 man whose Minnesota driving privileges had been canceled was drinking vodka and hand-rolling a cigarette when he nearly struck a squad car in traffic before being arrested for his ninth drunken-driving offense, according to court documents. Pierce County sheriff’s deputies said the man, identified as 47-year-old Mark B. Harmon, had a preliminary blood-alcohol level of 0.267 during a Friday, July 21, traffic stop in the town of Trenton.
Two Minnesota motorcycle riders were injured last weekend after striking an SUV and then a guard rail in Pierce County. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said deputies were called at 3:57 p.m. Sunday, July 23, to county roads F and FF in the town of Clifton for a crash involving a motorcycle and an SUV.
A Hager City man was checked for injuries Tuesday, July 18, after the pickup he was driving crashed in rural Ellsworth. The Pierce County Sheriff's Office responded at 9:04 a.m. to the crash at Highway 10 and 730th Street in the town of Trimbelle. Deputies said the driver, identified as 30-year-old Michael J. Drager, was westbound in a 1999 Ford Ranger when it left the roadway. Drager overcorrected, causing the truck to slide sideways before overturning. Drager was treated and released at the scene, according to the sheriff's office.
The driver in a 2016 motorcycle crash that left a Prescott mom dead was charged this week with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. St. Croix County prosecutors filed the charge Monday, July 3, against Joshua D. Sykora, a 35-year-old Hastings resident. Authorities said the June 25, 2016, crash in the town of Troy killed Sykora's then-girlfriend, 38-year-old Brooke A. Ptacek-Baker, a Hastings business owner and mother of two children.
A Bay City man was airlifted to a hospital on Tuesday, July 4, after the motorcycle he was on crashed into a pickup truck in the town of Trenton. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office identified the motorcyclist as 28-year-old Christopher J. Majors, the operator of a 2015 Kawasaki that was eastbound on 170th Avenue during the crash, reported at 7:07 a.m.
A Hager City woman was hospitalized this week after a two-vehicle crash in Pierce County. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said deputies responded at 12:50 p.m. July 3 to Highway 35 and County Road VV in the town of Trenton, where a 2003 Toyota Corolla and a 2007 Chevy Silverado pickup collided.
A Rosemount man was arrested on suspicion of his 10th drunken-driving offense Tuesday, July 4, in western Wisconsin. The Wisconsin State Patrol identified the suspect as 47-year-old Lawrence M. LaPole. According to a news release, a trooper stopped a 2003 Pontiac Grand Prix just after 10 p.m. on Highway 29 in Dunn County for a traffic violation. The driver, identified by troopers as LaPole, was later arrested on suspicion of OWI-10th offense, failure to install an ignition interlock device, driving without a valid license and following too closely.
HUDSON — The Zumbrota man accused of bolting from a Red Wing hospital while handcuffed was recaptured Thursday by authorities in Hudson — but not before allegedly leading officers on another chase into the woods. Hudson police, assisting Pierce County sheriff's deputies, arrested 25-year-old Tanner J. Sward outside the Hudson movie theater, where he was allegedly there to buy drugs, according to Hudson police reports.
The National Weather Service confirmed what many eyewitnesses already knew — it was a tornado that struck Pierce County on Wednesday. Michelle Margraf, a meteorologist for the weather service, said a survey team was on the ground Thursday, June 29, assessing the aftermath of the tornado. Crews should be able to determine the path and strength of the tornado that struck the town of Martell and surrounding areas at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
TOWN OF MARTELL — At least one person was injured after a fast-developing storm produced a tornado that destroyed numerous buildings Wednesday, June 28, in rural Ellsworth. Authorities said a tornado cut an estimated 10-mile path in the town of Martell, where officials were busy assessing damage in the area.