Woman arraigned after high speed chase, crash in Park Rapids
A Fergus Falls woman who led officers on a high speed chase through Park Rapids Tuesday after dragging a police officer nearly two blocks with her car was arraigned Thursday on five charges, including three felonies.
Marchelle Kim Ceryes (pronounced Sears) faces charges of Fourth Degree Assault on a Peace Officer, Fleeing, two counts of Criminal Vehicular Operation and Theft.
"Her actions that day created a significant risk to the citizens of Hubbard County and a risk to the officers of Park Rapids," said Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne.
Judge Robert Tiffany set bail at $75,000 unconditional and $50,000 with the conditions that Ceryes must remain law abiding, cannot drive or consume any alcohol and must keep in contact with a probation officer.
She indicated she is indigent so a public defender will be appointed.
Park Rapids police officer Carrie Parks, who was dragged down the Walmart service road while trying to apprehend Ceryes on a shoplifting charge, was in court Thursday.
Parks and partner Dan Garner had detained Ceryes to investigate an allegation that she had shoplifted a 12-pack of beer from the superstore in a diaper bag.
Parks was speaking to Ceryes in the parking lot after being called by store security. The passenger door was open. Garner said Ceryes gave permission for the officers to search the trunk after they found the diaper bag with the beer. But then the vehicle started moving, Garner said. Parks reached into the car to grab the gearshift and take it out of gear.
The complaint states as the vehicle lurched forward, Parks became pinned in the passenger door and was being dragged over the concrete berm while she clung to the middle console.
She was dragged nearly two blocks with her legs trapped under the vehicle. At the intersection of Henrietta Avenue, she was able to let go without being run over, Parks said.
Garner's squad car entered into a pursuit that reached speeds of 85 to 90 mph, he estimated. The fleeing vehicle turned south on Henrietta, then west on Highway 34. It headed north on County Road 1 at high speeds. By this time a call went out to law officers; Hubbard County and the State Patrol joined the chase.
"I didn't have time to be scared," Parks said Thursday in court. She limped back to her squad car to join the pursuit. "I was more scared for my partner. He didn't know where I was. He saw my legs underneath the car."
Stopping the fleeing vehicle
Garner sped north while the fleeing vehicle swerved all over the road, the officer said, blowing through the stop sign at Hollinger and Middle Street and Central Avenue (County 1).
Worried about oncoming traffic, Garner tried to pull alongside Ceryes' 1998 Chevy Lumina and nudge it back into its own lane. He was driving in the opposite traffic lane trying to keep her from oncoming cars, Chief Terry Eilers said. One compact car near the Heartland Trail nearly collided head-on with the suspect's vehicle, Garner said.
As the speeding vehicles headed north on County 1 they encountered a hilly curve near Headwaters Country Club a mile north of town.
The chase ended when the fleeing vehicle clipped the side of a southbound Honda CRV driven by summer resident Bonita Larson, who was on her way to pick up husband Wayne after she'd played a round of golf.
"She was in my lane so I tried to go into the ditch," a shaken Larson said. She was driving a "brand new" Honda CRV.
"She still hit me and followed me into the ditch," Larson said of her harrowing experience.
Husband Wayne kept a protective arm around Bonita while she gave a statement to the State Patrol.
"It was like watching a TV show," Bonita Larson said, shaking her head.
Her CRV suffered extensive damage as the oncoming car ripped the left rear wheel off the SUV and continued across the roadway into the ditch. Larson's vehicle was spun around.
Garner meanwhile approached the Lumina, which lost its left rear wheel due to the force of the crash,
"She was pretty combative," Garner said of the suspect when the chase stopped. "She was gonna run me right over. She tried to lock the door of the vehicle but I extracted her from it and put restraints on her. She appeared to have superficial injuries."
Both vehicles were heavily damaged on the drivers' sides.
"I thought she was going to hit it head on," Garner said of the vehicle near the Heartland Trail that had a close call during the chase. "Then she clipped her," he said pointing to the Larson vehicle.
"Oh yeah, I'm a little sore," Bonita Larson said, holding her right arm. She was treated and released later in the day. Her side air bag deployed.
Suspect, suspected alcohol use
According to the complaint, when state trooper Sue Pederson arrived on the scene, she smelled alcohol on Ceryes. The suspect "admitted to being on a three day drinking binge."
The complaint states Ceryes drank at least one of the beers in the store bathroom.
Parks escorted Ceryes to the hospital for observation because female inmates must have a female officer accompanying them after an arrest. A blood sample was drawn there. The blood alcohol results were not available by the time of the arraignment.
After Parks took the suspect to jail, she then sought medical treatment for her own injuries.
"I don't need skin grafts," Parks said, downplaying initial reports that painted a much more serious picture of her injuries.
"It's little patches of road rash" on her leg and foot, she said. Her shoes were ruined being dragged. "The tetanus shot hurt worse" than the injuries, she added.
Back on the job
Parks was back at work at 6 a.m. the next morning.
"I don't want to diminish it," she said of her ordeal. "It was a big deal.
"But it could potentially happen any day," she said. "You never know what will happen any time" officers encounter a suspected criminal.
She turned the attention to her partner. Garner could not have performed any more heroically, she maintained.
"He saved that lady's life," she said of Bonita Larson.
Parks finished her report
of the incident and turned her attention to her workload.
"I have other cases to work," she said. The department is raising funds to purchase a new K-9 for the squad. Parks will be the new K-9 officer.
Thursday she and State Trooper Dion Pederson walked the Walmart service road and took measurements to reconstruct the start of the chase. Then they both headed off to a serious crash southeast of Park Rapids.
Ceryes has a lengthy record of previous theft convictions in Otter Tail and Hennepin Counties. She is currently on probation for a domestic assault charge in Otter Tail County in 2009.
The Assault charge stemming from the Tuesday chase incident carries a maximum of 3 years and/or a $6,000 fine; the Fleeing charge is punishable by a maximum of 3 years and 1 day and/or a $5,000 fine; the two Criminal Vehicular Operation charges each carry a maximum of 1 year and/or a $3,000 fine and the Theft charge is punishable by a maximum of 3 years and/or a $5,000 fine upon conviction.
Dearstyne said he was able to get an enhancement on the theft charge because Ceryes "created a reasonably foreseeable risk of bodily harm" in dragging Parks.
Ceryes' next appearance is June 27.