By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
— A 31-year-old St. Peter man arrested Friday night in Kasota after allegedly leading Le Sueur County deputies on a high-speed chase is also the suspect in a Mankato pickup chase last week where the driver escaped on foot.
Adam Joseph Willaert appeared in Le Sueur County District Court Tuesday for a felony charge of fleeing police officers in a motor vehicle and five misdemeanor charges related to Friday’s chase. Willaert allegedly sped away from a deputy who attempted to stop him at about 11:45 p.m.
He was pursued on several rural roads and through a Kasota park before his vehicle got stuck while he attempted to escape by driving down railroad tracks, a Le Sueur County Sheriff’s Department report said. Willaert fled on foot, but deputies recognized him and arrested him later on foot, the report said.
Charges related to the Mankato incident were filed Monday in Blue Earth County District Court. It was about 11:35 p.m. Feb. 26 when a Mankato police officer on routine patrol clocked a pickup truck going 53 mph in a 35 mph zone on Stoltzman Road, according to that criminal complaint.
When the officer turned around to pursue the truck, its driver sped away. The pickup was found a short time later parked between two garages in the 400 block of James Avenue. Its lights were still on and the driver’s side door was open. The woman who owned the pickup, Afton Lueck, was still inside, the complaint said.
When asked who was driving, Lueck told the officer she only knew the man by his first name, Adam. Two prescription pill bottles with Willaert’s name on them were found in the pickup. A suitcase containing clothing and letters addressed to Willaert also were found, the officer reported.
Lueck was taken to the downtown Public Safety Center for questioning. She told the officer she had met the driver about a month earlier and described him as a “friend of a friend of a friend.” She also said she received a text from him that night before he met her with another man she only knew as Nate.
The man Lueck knew as Adam was driving, she said. She also told the officer she had told him to slow down a short time before the chase started. After the chase, both Adam and Nate ran from the scene, Lueck reported.
Police said last week they were looking for two men who had fled from a pickup truck after a chase.