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Deputies search for gun after high-speed chase

Divers with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue team came to Stevens County on Friday, May 9, 2014, to help the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office search for a gun they believe a suspect may have thrown from his vehicle during a high-speed chase west of Morris, Minn., on Wednesday, May 7. MORRIS SUN TRIBUNE/Kim Ukura

MORRIS, Minn. – An Appleton man faces several criminal charges after a high-speed chase west of Morris on Wednesday afternoon.

On Friday, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue team came to Stevens County

to search for a gun in two area sloughs that law enforcement officials believe the suspect, 35-year-old Joshua Proudfoot, may have tossed from his vehicle during the pursuit.

Proudfoot made his first appearance in Stevens County District Court on Friday. He faces one count of fleeing a peace officer, two counts of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of a controlled substance, and two counts of possession for methamphetamine and marijuana.

According to the complaint, officers with the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office and Morris Police Department received information that Proudfoot had been selling drugs in Morris. Officers searching for Proudfoot observed him driving and reported that he was crossing lanes of traffic and weaving in his own lane.

Officers caught up with Proudfoot about five miles west of Morris. Proudfoot drove south toward Highway 28, where a deputy with the Stevens County Sheriff's Office had blocked the road.

According to the complaint, Proudfoot drove into the ditch along the road until he could get onto Highway 28 again, with four law enforcement vehicles in pursuit. Proudfoot continued to drive erratically, going shoulder to shoulder along the highway while throwing clear baggies out of his windows.

Eventually, Proudfoot drove back into a ditch and hit a driveway approach, causing the car to jump about 15 feet in the air before hitting the ground. When the vehicle landed, Proudfoot crawled out of the driver’s side window and fled on foot through a plowed field, the complaint aid.

Officers continued to pursue him in their vehicles. When he came to a slough, Proudfoot was taken into custody, the complaint says.

Proudfoot suffered a minor injury in the crash. He was treated at Stevens Community Medical Center, then transferred to St. Cloud Hospital. After he was released Thursday, he was transferred to the Douglas County Jail.

As a result of the chase, the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office closed a 2.5-mile stretch of Highway 28 for about 90 minutes that evening to recover evidence that Proudfoot was believed to have thrown out of his window.

According to the complaint, officers recovered 14 bags containing methamphetamine in ditches along the road. A search of the vehicle Proudfoot was driving also uncovered other containers of pills, marijuana, hydromorphone and other prescription pills. Officers also found a .38 special bullet in the car, the complaint states.

Sheriff Jason Dingman said the bullet, along with Proudfoot’s actions during the pursuit, led them to believe he may have disposed of a gun in a slough or ditch along the chase path.

As of Friday afternoon, no gun had been recovered.

Agencies involved with the pursuit included the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office, Morris Police Department, Minnesota State Patrol and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.