By Shereen Siewert
One person is in custody after allegedly spraying a chemical in a deputy’s face, then leading police on a high-speed chase on Hwy. 51 north of Wausau, according to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department.
The incident unfolded just after 10 p.m. Thursday when a Lincoln County Deputy pulled over the driver of a vehicle in Tomahawk whose plates did not match the vehicle. The registered owner, police said, had a revoked driving status.
The driver, a 54-year-old La Crosse man, pulled into a gas station at the intersection of Hwy. 51 and Hwy. 86, then gave the deputy a false identity before allegedly spraying him in the face and incapacitating him. Police say the substance was likely a bear spray or highly concentrated pepper spray.
The diver then allegedly fled the scene of the traffic stop southbound on Hwy. 51. Tomahawk EMS responded to that location to treat the incapacitated Deputy.
A second deputy pursued the driver southbound at speeds in excess of 95 mph until additional deputies deployed tire deflation devices. The driver continued to flee, police said, reaching speeds of more than 70 mph even after all four tires were deflated. After turning westbound on Lincoln Drive, the driver proceeded to the dead end of the road, east of County Road JJ in the town of Merrill, before coming to a stop in the yard of a private residence, police said.
When the pursuing deputies attempted to take the suspect into custody, the suspect allegedly sprayed one of the four deputies in the face and incapacitated him as well.
The three remaining deputies took the man into custody just as the vehicle he was driving started on fire and became engulfed in flames. Merrill Fire Department personnel responded to and extinguished the fire and treated the second incapacitated deputy.
The suspect was booked into the Lincoln County Jail on two felony counts of battery to a law enforcement officer, fleeing an officer, misappropriation of identification and resisting arrest. He also received several traffic violations.
Police have not yet released the name of the suspect.