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Willmar man pleads guilty in 100-mph flee from law

WILLMAR -- Jose Mares III, 38, of Willmar, pleaded guilty Monday to a felony charge of fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle and a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving in connection to an April 25 incident that included running from the law at speeds over 100 mph.

After he was arrested, Mares claimed the accelerator was stuck and that he intentionally ran the car into the tree to stop it and then ran off because he was scared.

As part of a plea agreement reached in Kandiyohi County District Court, two gross misdemeanor charges of driving while impaired and a misdemeanor charge of driving after revocation will be dismissed. He will be sentenced June 1.

The charges were filed after two Willmar police officers observed a vehicle speeding between 60 and 70 mph in a 30-mph zone along the 400 block of Lakeland Drive Southeast.

Both officers gave pursuit and followed the vehicle north along Lakeland Drive, through the stoplight at U.S. Highway 12. One of the officers noted his vehicle speed at 100 mph during the pursuit.

The fleeing vehicle made an abrupt left turn onto 14th Avenue Northeast, but lost control of the car and struck a tree.

The driver ran away. Officers later found a man matching his description walking along Business Highway 71.

He had a white powdery substance on his clothing that matched the substance emitted by an airbag deployment in a vehicle crash.

Mares denied driving. He was subjected to field sobriety tests, failed the tests and registered a 0.131 blood-alcohol level on a breath test. He was arrested, taken to the Law Enforcement Center and tested a 0.08 blood-alcohol level there.