UPDATED: Mahnomen man with HC warrant identified as victim of hypothermia
FELTON, Minn. - The Clay County Sheriff's Office has identified a man who died, apparently from hypothermia, after fleeing on foot following a high-speed police chase early Saturday.
Sheriff Bill Bergquist identified the deceased man as Jordan Louis Oppegard, 24, of Mahnomen. Authorities believe Oppegard was the car's driver, Bergquist said.
According to Bergquist and Sgt. Darin Bredman:
A sheriff's deputy was patrolling state Highway 9 south of Felton when he turned around to check on a passing northbound car shortly after 1:30 a.m. Saturday. The driver took off, turning onto Clay County Road 108 and shortly after driving off the roadway into an area near gravel pits where the road ends. The driver lost control and rolled the car.
When the deputy arrived at the car, one occupant was inside and two separate sets of tracks in the snow were heading different directions. Bredman said the person complained of pain but refused treatment and didn't cooperate with the investigation.
Deputies tried to follow the tracks on foot, but eventually had to stop the late-night search because of the cold conditions.
The incident took a surprising turn Saturday evening when the registered owner of the vehicle, who previously wasn't cooperating with authorities, called the sheriff's office to say they couldn't find one of the two people who had left the vehicle.
Because of the cold weather, a search for the missing man didn't start until around noon Sunday.
Deputies returned to the scene, along with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and searched the area with snowmobiles and ATVs.
Bredman said deputies followed the southbound tracks, finding a spot where they believe one occupant was picked up by another vehicle, and then followed the northbound tracks until they found Oppegard's body shortly before 4 p.m. about 2 to 3 miles north of the crash scene.
The body was taken to Ramsey County Medical Examiner for an autopsy.
The passenger who allegedly fled from the vehicle was identified as 23-year-old Clifford Dare Sargent Jr., while the other passenger who stayed with the vehicle was identified as 30-year-old Anthony Harrison Engebretson. Both are from Mahnomen.
Bergquist said no decision had been made as to whether to seek charges against one or both passengers.
Authorities also hadn't learned why Oppegard fled the scene, and it's unknown whether alcohol was a factor, Bergquist said.
Online court records show a warrant for Oppegard's arrest was issued on Oct. 29 in Hubbard County for a misdemeanor charge of possession of a hypodermic syringe or needle.