By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN A driving complaint that was called in to authorities by a Loretto woman led to a short pursuit and arrest of a Monticello woman near Delano Nov. 5 just before 5 p.m.
West Hennepin Public Safety (WHPS) received a driving complaint on a vehicle traveling westbound on Highway 12 in the city of Independence.WHPS Director Ray McCoy located a 1996 Buick Regal near Hennepin County Road 90, observed poor driving conduct, and attempted to stop the vehicle by using red lights and siren.
“I observed it come around the curve, traveling on the shoulder of the road,” McCoy said. “It continued westbound and almost went off the road. It was on the shoulder again coming around the next curve, and then drifted from the shoulder over the centerline. That’s when I activated the red lights and siren and continued westbound.”
When Say’s vehicle passed McCoy near Hennepin County Road 90, he observed two children in the back of the vehicle.
“One was in a car seat, and the other had a seatbelt strapped across,” McCoy said, realizing later the carseat was not actually buckled to the seat of the car.
The driver of the vehicle, Monica Mary Margaret Say, 29, of Monticello, refused to stop, and continued another 4.5 miles, nearly causing numerous accidents, according to WHPS.
McCoy said people traveling in both directions were pulling over and yielding to his vehicle, but said Say seemed “oblivious” to what was going on.
“She just about hit a car at 92 south . . . that time of day, there’s a lot of cars,” McCoy said.
As the pursuit was approaching Delano, McCoy said he thought it would continue westbound on Highway 12, but, at the last minute, Say made a “real hard right turn” and didn’t really recover from that turn, coming to a stop on the dirt portion of the shoulder of County Line Road.
Had the pursuit not ended there, and had there not been children in the vehicle, McCoy said he would have considered a “pit” maneuver to try to stop the vehicle.
“Tactically, with kids in the car, you just think things differently,” McCoy said.
As he approached the vehicle and began conversation with Say, he said he immediately smelled a very strong odor of alcohol, strong odor of non-consumed marijuana, and that Say’s speech was slurred.
McCoy also again observed Say’s two children in the car, ages 4 and 2.
“She didn’t give a reason for not pulling over,” McCoy said. “She said she was coming from Fridley and was going to Monticello to drop off her children with a babysitter so she could go to her job.”
McCoy added that Say was very “evasive and emotional” during his short conversation with her before she was taken into custody. Say later provided a breath test indicating her blood-alcohol content was .17, more than twice the legal limit, according to WHPS.
The following day, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office filed charges against Say for felony fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, gross misdemeanor child endangerment, and fourth degree driving under the influence. She was released from jail and has an upcoming court date of Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Say was also in possession of marijuana, which was found on the front seat, and an open bottle of rum was located in a diaper bag, according to WHPS.
The vehicle involved is under forfeiture, and child protection has been notified of the incident, McCoy said. For the time being, Say’s children were placed in the custody of her sister.
“This is a classic example of some of the dangerous drivers WHPS officers deals with,” McCoy said. “The lives of the public and the innocent children in Say’s vehicle were spared because of the call from a concerned citizen and the actions by the WHPS officers who responded.
“The hero, the person that really is to be thanked, is the mom that took the time to call it in and report the pretty erratic driving she had observed,” McCoy said. “I really thank her a lot for doing it, and that’s what we encourage people to do if they see it.”