Herald JournalHerald Journal, May 30, 2005

Winsted man jumps off New Ulm bridge following DWI arrest

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

Following an arrest for driving while impaired Wednesday just after midnight, a Winsted man escaped from a New Ulm detoxification center and jumped a bridge in an attempt to elude law enforcement.

Randy Daniel Wojcik, 23, was taken to the facility in New Ulm following an arrest by the Winsted Police at the trailer park.

Wojcik escaped from the facility by smashing a window and was spotted by New Ulm police running through the streets, eventually making his way to a bridge that crosses the Minnesota River, according to a criminal complaint.

An officer saw Wojcik on the bridge, pulled up alongside him, and asked him to get in the officer’s car, which he did, but refused to shut the car door, according to the complaint.

Wojcik then ran out of the vehicle and plunged over the bridge, falling a “substantial distance” into the Minnesota River, where he took advantage of the strong current and swam downstream in order to reach a point to exit the river, according to the complaint.

Police officers drove downstream parallel to the river, keeping Wojcik in sight, caught up to him, and ordered him to stop running from them, to which he did not, according to the complaint.

He hid in some tall grass near the river, and was eventually taken into custody with the assistance of a k-9 dog.

Earlier that morning in Winsted, Wojcik was allegedly involved in a hit-and-run accident near the Winsted Motel on Babcock Avenue. Several people who witnessed the accident notified authorities that they saw three men leaving the scene of the accident, according to a criminal complaint.

One of the men, John Bartlett, turned himself in to police a short time later, said he was a passenger in the vehicle that went into the ditch, and led authorities to Wojcik, whom he said was the driver, according to the complaint.

Police went to Wojcik’s residence and were in the process of arresting him when he became aggressive and physically resisted arrest, according to the complaint.

During the ensuing altercation, Officer Glen Strom of the Winsted Police Department received a contusion on his left wrist. The Lester Prairie Police Department assisted Winsted with the arrest.

Once Wojcik was placed in the rear of the squad car, he continued to yell, attempted to kick out one of the windows of the squad, and also tried to inflict harm upon himself by twisting his restraints, according to the complaint.

Upon arrival at the McLeod County Jail, Wojcik refused to submit to an implied consent test.

In McLeod County, Wojcik was charged with the initial second degree driving while impaired and refusing to test, which carries a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment, and/or a $3,000 fine, as well as felony fourth degree assault of a police officer, which carries a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment, and/or a $6,000 fine.

He was also charged with failing to stop at the scene of an accident, and driving after revocation, both misdemeanors with maximum penalties of 90 days in jail, and/or a $1,000 fine.

In Brown County, Wojcik is facing a first degree criminal damage to property charge for breaking the window at detox, and one count of escaping from custody, both which carry a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, and/or a $10,000 fine.

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