Billie J. M. Gassen, 32, of Waupaca. Felony charges filed Aug. 13 include fleeing an officer, two counts of 2nd degree recklessly endangering safety, and bail jumping.

By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — A 32-year-old Waupaca woman who allegedly led police on a high speed chase for more than 30 miles through Marathon County had two children in the car, according to court documents.

Billie J.M. Gassen appeared this week in Marathon County Circuit Court, where she faces charges of fleeing an officer, bail jumping, and two counts of recklessly endangering safety. At the time of her arrest, Gassen was out on bond for a pending third-offense drunken driving charge in Waupaca County, according to court records. She is now being held in the Marathon County Jail on a $15,000 cash bond.

Police say they received a call just before 11 a.m. Sunday about a Jeep Cherokee that was “all over the road traveling on Hwy. 51 near mile marker 181. The Jeep was listed as stolen out of Waupaca County.

A Rothschild Police officer spotted the vehicle and waited for backup before trying to pull the driver over on the exit ramp to westbound Hwy. 29, but Gassen ignored officers and sped up, reaching speeds of nearly 100 miles per  hour at one point, according to the criminal complaint. Marathon County deputies joined in the chase, which continued for 31.2 miles on Hwy. 29 past Hwy 97, before an Athens Police officer used stop sticks to deflate the front tire of the vehicle, police said. Gassen continued driving on the deflated tire until a Marathon County deputy used a pit maneuver to block her in and stop her vehicle, according to the police report.

When officers surrounded Gassen’s vehicle with their guns drawn, they realized there were two children in the back of the vehicle. Gassen allegedly locked the doors and refused to get out. One of the children unlocked a back door and tried to get out of the vehicle, but Gassen allegedly grabbed the child to keep him from getting out. An officer eventually broke a window, unlocked the doors and pulled Gassen from the vehicle before arresting her.

The children, whose ages were not specified in the report, were not injured. A family member was called in to take care of the children and Gassen was taken to the Marathon County Jail. The stolen vehicle report was rescinded after the vehicle’s owner declined to press charges, police said.

A pretrial conference is set for Aug. 23.