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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When shoppers drive the Walmart parking lot, they're usually after one thing: empty spaces. Jordan Ziebarth scouts for the exact opposite. The Cottage Grove, Minn., police officer isn't interested in the closest available parking spot to the store. He's looking at the vehicles that are already there.
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.
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.
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.
The inside of a boat where a fatal carbon monoxide exposure occurred on the St. Croix River contained a detector that wasn’t turned on. The Department of Natural Resources released information Thursday, June 29, from a preliminary report outlining circumstances of the incident discovered along the river in the town of St. Joseph, where a woman was found dead and two men were found sickened.
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.
A St. Croix County woman died from an apparent carbon monoxide poisoning Sunday after she and two others were found on a boat over the weekend on the St. Croix River.
A felony fleeing charge against a Red Wing man could be dropped in Pierce County if he's convicted of murder charges he faces in Goodhue County. Pierce County Assistant District Attorney Bill Thorie said that's the agreement with the attorney for Charles D. Jones, the 26-year-old charged in Goodhue County with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of third-degree murder in the April 18 shooting death of Dangelo Masterjohn. "If there is a significant conviction there, I don't intend to bring him back," Thorie said at a Friday, June 2, extradition hearing.
Authorities pulled one of two people from the St. Croix River Tuesday afternoon after they went underwater. Crews from St. Croix and Washington counties were searching the river as of 5:50 p.m. for a male who still had not been found, according to Washington County dispatch supervisor Bobbi Rindfleisch. She said life-saving measures were being performed on the female who was pulled from the water by authorities. Her condition wasn’t immediately available.