The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

July 1, 2010

Police led on high-speed semi tractor chase

MANKATO — A Delavan man who led police on a high-speed chase in a semi tractor after reporting his house was burning will face felony charges when he’s released from the hospital, authorities said Thursday.

A Faribault County deputy was at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester Thursday guarding the room where 31-year-old Bryan Douglas Lempkie was being treated for toxins in his system, said Chief Deputy Scott Adams. Lempkie was airlifted to Rochester Wednesday from Blue Earth United Hospital.

Deputies were first called to Lempkie’s house in the 500 block of Main Street in Delavan at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday. They were investigating a child custody dispute between Lempkie and his girlfriend, 32-year-old Katie Smith, Adams said.

Lempkie called 911 two hours later to report he had started the house on fire, that he had left the scene in his semi tractor and that he was armed.

At about 5:30 p.m. deputy Todd Duit spotted Lempkie driving at a high rate of speed on Faribault County Road 16 west of Blue Earth. Lempkie wouldn’t pull over, which prompted a high-speed chase that brought deputies and police officers through Blue Earth, south to Elmore, over the Iowa state line, then back into Minnesota.

Lempkie already had passed through areas where tire-deflating devices had been set out, but his tires were not deflated, Adams said. He eventually pulled over and surrendered without incident. The chase covered about 35 miles and included officers from the Blue Earth, Elmore and Buffalo Center, Iowa, police departments.

Part of the chase was on Highway 169, which is busier than usual during that time of the day, Adams said.

“Anytime you have a high-speed chase, you’re putting people in danger,” he said.

A Faribault County judge ordered Lempkie to pay child support last week after Smith and Faribault County Human Services brought him to court. Smith also lives in the Delavan home, which received heavy smoke and fire damage on the main floor, Adams said. The second floor also was damaged by heat and smoke, and the basement was damaged by water.

Felony arson and fleeing police in a motor vehicle charges are being requested along with drunken-driving charges.

Deputies initially just wanted Lempkie’s blood drawn at the hospital in Blue Earth because they suspected he was under the influence of alcohol, Adams said. He was taken to Rochester because doctors found other toxins in his blood, which Adams didn’t identify.

Long before Lempkie and Smith moved into the house, it was a place Capt. Rich Murry of the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Department called home. Murry’s brother called him Wednesday night to tell him the house where they had grown up, along with five other siblings, was burning.

“Delavan is a small town and everybody knows everybody down there,” Murry said.

Their parents sold the house when they moved to Mankato about six years ago. The family had added on to the house a couple of times as the family grew.

“For 40 years of my life, that was home,” Murry said. “It’s really sad because I have so many fond memories of that place. Accidents happen, but, to see it happen this way, it makes you kind of mad.”


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