Police bashed in a window of a sinking van to save the driver after a chase that began in Maplewood and ended in the lake in Hudson, Wis.

Officers attempted to pull over the van around 3 a.m. Thursday for a vehicle equipment and speeding violation when the vehicle took off. The vehicle reached a top speed of about 100 miles per hour during the chase, according to audio from Police Clips, a website which records police scanner traffic.

The van traveled from White Bear Avenue in Maplewood onto eastbound I-694. The vehicle followed that road before turning to eastbound I-94 and crossing into Wisconsin. The van turned into Hudson on Highway 35, headed north. The route, as described by police scanner traffic, stretched about 22 miles.

The vehicle stopped at the Lake Mallalieu boat launch along 2nd Street. Officers then prepared to call the driver out of the vehicle when it rolled into the lake, said Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell.

Two Woodbury police officers hurried to the water and shattered a window to attempt to pull the woman from the van, but they couldn’t drag her out.

As the van sank the woman awoke and escaped the vehicle, and police brought her to shore and took her into custody. She was the only occupant of the vehicle.

She was brought to Hudson Hospital to be checked for her injuries. She is currently being held in the St. Croix County jail and is charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. If she is extradited to Minnesota, she will face charges related to reckless driving and operating a vehicle under a suspended license, Schnell said.

The woman was convicted in 2009 and 2010 for driving under a suspended license. She also was convicted in 2009 for not carrying proof of insurance when operating a vehicle. In 2011, she was convicted of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. She is on probation until 2018.

According to a Hudson Police Department release, eight different agencies responded to the chase and accident, including the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Minnesota State Patrol and the Hudson Fire Department.


Ben Farniok is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.