SHELL LAKE– Jason P. Arnold, 38, of Exeland faces a competency hearing after he led officers on a high-speed chase from Hayward to the Sarona area on July 22, a chase that included a head-on collision with one of the squads and which finally ended in a back yard.
Arnold has been charged in Washburn County Circuit Court with two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, battery to a law enforcement officer, reckless driving that causes great bodily harm, and fleeing from officers – all felonies – plus six traffic violations.
At his initial appearance on Monday, July 27, the state requested a competency evaluation. The competency hearing
is scheduled for August 25.
Arnold also faces charges of malicious destruction of personal property last month in Michigan after allegedly doing donuts with his truck on the lawn of the Schoolcraft County Courthouse in Manistique and leaving a sign there saying he was upset with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which has an office there.
He was arrested in Sawyer County and was out on $10,000 bond awaiting an extradition hearing when the chase occurred. Since he is in custody in Washburn County, the extradition hearing was cancelled
The chase began after he left a Hayward business and had ammassed 10 to a dozen Sawyer County law enforcement squads in pursuit by the time Arnold and his Chevy truck hit Hwy. 70 at Washburn County’s east border.
Washburn County deputies and a State Patrol trooper joined the pursuit, with speeds varying between 35 and 70 mph as the procession continued west on Hwy. 70.
When Arnold went south on Cranberry Drive, some officers went west on Hwy. 70 and then south on Hwy. 53 to try cutting Arnold off on Cranberry Drive.
Instead Arnold took a different route: He cut through a hayfield, through a barbed wire fence, and up a steep embankment onto Hwy. 53, heading south in the northbound lane.
“There was a fair amount of traffic and multiple vehicles had to apply their brakes to avoid colliding with the white truck,” a deputy’s report said.
By that time three deputies and an investigator were following Arnold, their lights and sirens activated. Arnold cut across a highway crossover near the Barron County line and headed back north at 60 to more than 100 mph.
At one point Arnold was boxed by a semi in the right lane, a deputy beside Arnold’s truck in the left lane, and the investigator behind him. So he turned east onto Long Lake Avenue and maintained speeds of 90 to more than 100 mph. He and the two remaining squads slowed to make the 90-degree corner on the road.
Arnold reportedly blew through the stop sign at Cty. Hwy. D and was almost hit by another pickup, but the pickup was able to stop in time and then back up out of the way of the oncoming squads.
“The pursuit continued north on Lapcinski Road where this truck was traveling at such a high rate of speech it was very difficult to maintain contact. There was not any license plates on this truck,” the report said.
Arnold turned west onto Audubon Road, and a deputy set up stop sticks at the intersection with Cty. Hwy. P, and they did their job, but Arnold did not stop. He drove over them, turned north on Hwy. P, with two officers still on the chase, and then turned west onto Miller Landing Road, which dead ends at a boat landing.
Suddenly Arnold reversed course and sped back toward the squads. He tried to bypass one of them, but the deputy shifted it to block Arnold as the officer “did not believe this individual should be allowed to escape and had already risked many people’s lives with this pursuit,” the report said.
Arnold went to the deputy’s left, and the deputy turned into the path and braked. Their trucks collided head on, forcing the deputy’s truck backwards to the left, and Arnold shot down a driveway. The deputy accelerated to get ahead of him, fearing Arnold would try to go through the home’s back yard and possibly into the house, where people might be put in danger.
Arnold hit the deputy’s right door and kept going.
The deputy got out of his squad, drew his pistol, and positioned himself behind the C-pillar where he had a clear view of Arnold.
“The driver had his hands up and was yelling are you okay,” the report said. The deputy yelled for him to get out of the truck, and Arnold continued to ask if the deputy was OK. As the deputy repeatedly told him to exit the truck, Arnold asked for his Bible but said he did not know where it was. Arnold also said he did not have any weapons.
Meanwhile, K-9 Onyx had arrived, and a trooper and deputy were behind Arnold’s truck in a better position to take him into custody. Arnold lit a cigarette and left the truck from the driver’s side. A deputy took the keys out of the ignition from the passenger side.
The truck had three flat tires “but did not sustain much damage at all in the crash,” the report said.
The deputy whose truck had been rammed went to the emergency room at Spooner Health with possible neck injuries.