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Suspect leads authorities on chase including highway, railroad and swamp - and gets away

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Charges are pending in Crow Wing District Court against a male suspect who led law enforcement authorities on a high-speed chase Friday night — resulting in the suspect’s and the officer’s vehicles getting stuck in the railroad tracks — and the suspect getting away.

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Brainerd Police Deputy Chief Mike Bestul said officers were attempting to initiate a traffic stop at 5:29 p.m. Friday on 10th Avenue Northeast and Highway 210 in Brainerd, when the suspect failed to stop. The suspect fled and officers pursued the vehicle south on State Highway 25 to Red Pine Road to where the suspect gained access to the overpass railroad grade, where the suspect’s vehicle got stuck in the tracks. Bestul said the police officer’s vehicle also got stuck. Bestul said authorities stopped train traffic for three hours through Brainerd because the vehicles were stuck in the tracks.

Bestul said the suspect then fled on foot and authorities conducted an extensive search for the man, but they were unable to locate him. Bestul said Baxter, Breezy Point and Crosslake police departments, Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office, DNR, Minnesota State Patrol and the Brainerd Fire Department assisted in the search.

Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted said when the suspect fled on foot, Baxter police officer Matt Maier and his K-9 dog, Gator, pursued the suspect into the swamp. Exsted said after traveling about a mile into the swamp, Gator was having life-threatening medical issues.

“It turned from a search to a rescue mission,” said Exsted. “He (Gator) was done and he coudn’t go any further. They were in the middle of the swamp and they had to carry the dog out a half mile through swamp that was chest deep at times. He was taken to Lakeland and given some treatment that saved his life. The vet said the dog was close to expiring.”

Through the police investigation, Bestul said the suspect was identified and charges may be filed against the male for fleeing a peace officer and additional charges. Bestul said the name of the suspect will be withheld until he is charged to protect the investigation.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl.

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