Duluth man charged after cross-bridge stolen truck pursuit ends in crash
The incident started at Minnesota Power headquarters, went across the Bong Bridge to Superior and back to Duluth via the Oliver Bridge before a 70 mph collision along snowy roads.
DULUTH — An alleged joyride across the Twin Ports in a stolen work truck has landed a Duluth man in jail after a high-speed crash injured another motorist.
Dustin Paul Eggert, 34, was charged Thursday in State District Court with four crimes stemming from the Tuesday vehicle theft and police pursuit that started in downtown Duluth, continued through Superior and ended in the collision along Grand Avenue in West Duluth.
According to a criminal complaint:
The truck was reported stolen from a contractor outside Minnesota Power headquarters, 30 W. Superior St., at approximately 10:30 a.m. Staff and Duluth police officers were quickly able to determine the suspect's path based on tire tracks in the fresh snow, security camera footage and a built-in GPS monitoring system in the vehicle.
Observing that the driver fled south and exited onto the Bong Bridge, the Superior Police Department was notified of the stolen truck. Officers there attempted to make a stop but the driver continued on and later crossed back over the Oliver Bridge, where Duluth officers also unsuccessfully attempted a stop.
"Given the weather conditions and for public safety, after the defendant had disregarded the first officer's emergency lights and fled, officers in Duluth discontinued an active pursuit of the vehicle," the complaint states. "(They) however continued to monitor its location and follow the vehicle in a secretive manner so as not to encourage the driver to attempt to flee at a faster rate out of concern of causing an accident."
The truck, nonetheless, did crash into another vehicle and a fire hydrant near the Willard Munger Inn, 7408 Grand Ave., a short time later. The GPS system indicated the truck was traveling at approximately 71 mph at the point of the collision.
When police arrived, witnesses explained that the suspect got out of the truck and ran behind the motel. Officers found Eggert, who was "acting in an erratic fashion and appeared to be looking around." They also tracked his footprints through the snow, finding a discarded hat and sweatshirt that he had been seen wearing during the theft and pursuit.
In a statement, Eggert reportedly acknowledged that he stolen the truck "because he was cold and wanted to go to Superior to get his phone." He also admitted fleeing Superior officers "because he was afraid of the Superior police."
Seeing the fellow injured motorist standing outside her vehicle, Eggert allegedly stated: "Look at that poor lady. I feel horrible about that s***."
The woman, who was not identified in the complaint, was taken to a hospital for treatment. Authorities said the extent of her injuries was not clear as of the filing of charges.
Eggert made an initial court appearance Thursday on felony counts of theft of a motor vehicle and fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, along with two gross misdemeanor counts of criminal vehicular operation resulting in bodily harm.
Eggert was charged just last week with another vehicle theft, having allegedly stolen car keys and a wallet from the jacket of a volunteer at a Lincoln Park church in March. The car was later recovered downtown, and surveillance video from a gas station allegedly helped identify Eggert as the perpetrator.
Court records show that Eggert has criminal convictions in at least 25 prior cases in Minnesota, though only one felony. At least eight of the cases were related to theft.
This story was updated at 11:35 a.m., Dec. 2 to reflect that the stolen truck was owned by a contractor, not Minnesota Power. The News Tribune regrets the error.