DETROIT LAKES, Minn.—Darcy Savig of Audubon got a shock to the system on Tuesday when he discovered his beloved 1969 Mercury Cougar had been stolen and had crashed after a high speed chase with the Minnesota State Patrol.
"I bought it when I graduated from high school in 1988," he said. "Over the years I've restored it inside and done other stuff to it."
According to court records, the saga started when a trooper parked on the eastbound shoulder of U.S. Highway 10, between Audubon and Detroit Lakes, heard a loud exhaust and a high-revving motor. A black muscle car with collector plates passed him going about 100 mph, and to add insult to injury, the driver stuck his hand out the window and flipped off the trooper as he sped by.
The trooper pursued with lights and siren at high speeds. Meanwhile, another trooper was conducting a traffic stop on the eastbound shoulder of Highway 10 closer to Detroit Lakes, and the second trooper also heard loud engine noise and was also given an obscene hand gesture by the driver as he flew past, with the first trooper in pursuit.
The second trooper joined the chase with emergency lights and siren, and at Highway 10 and Airport Road in Detroit Lakes, the driver of the stolen black Cougar had to brake hard in the left lane to avoid a collision with stopped traffic. He started to make a U-turn, causing the first trooper to do a PIT maneuver, ramming the rear panel of the Cougar from the side—the idea being to force it to abruptly turn sideways, causing the driver to lose control and stop.
The Cougar did spin around, but the driver didn't stop, and was now driving eastbound in the westbound lane of Highway 10. He then made another U-turn and started back westward. The two troopers drove through the median and were able to box him in and end the chase.
The driver, Robbie Lee Stumbo. 36, of Lake Park, was ordered out of the car onto the ground with his hands behind his back, and was arrested. He allegedly showed signs of being under the influence of meth and marijuana, and admitting to using methamphetamines earlier that day. He complained of back pain and was taken to the hospital for medical clearance.
A blood sample was sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for analysis. His license was canceled as inimical to public safety, and he has an impaired driving conviction from 2009.
Stumbo was charged in Becker County District Court with felony car theft, felony fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, gross misdemeanor DWI and gross misdemeanor driving after his license was canceled.
Savig says he plans to restore the Cougar, which has a smashed-up rear quarter, and hopes his collector's insurance will cover the cost. He said he drove the car to work that afternoon, planning to take a cruise after closing time, and the theft occurred at the end of the work day.
He walked out of work to find his car gone.
"At first, I thought my family was playing a trick on me," he said. Then a family member talked to a local police officer who reported that a black muscle car had just been involved in a chase with the State Patrol.
"Somebody had to be walking by at just the right time. What are the odds?" Savig said.