Wadena family chases down drunk driver
A man, his pregnant wife and their three children were nearly hit head-on by an alleged drunk driver, and ended up turning their vehicle around to follow him, contacting police via 911 and witnessing the man being arrested for DWI in Wadena.
Jason Dykhoff, his wife Kelly and their three children ages 3, 5 and 10 were southbound on U.S. Highway 71 about four miles north of Hewitt on Feb. 8 when an approaching vehicle veered into their lane. Jason steered the family vehicle onto the shoulder and nearly into the ditch and still narrowly avoided being hit by the car. Anticipating a jolt, he warned his family: "Hang on. This could hurt."
Kelly, who was 29 weeks pregnant, began having contractions. Still, Jason spun the family vehicle around and started a pursuit of the offending vehicle.
Jason said he never hesitated in following the allegedly drunk driver, despite the danger.
"He put my family at stake," Jason said. "He could have killed all of us."
The Dykhoffs estimated the suspect vehicle nearly collided at least 10 different times with oncoming vehicles along U.S. Highway 71, including two semis.
At one point, the Dykhoffs believe the driver noticed the family following him, and he made several quick turns onto side streets of Wadena to lose them, but the Dykhoffs were on the phone with police and they continued to tail him until police caught up and pulled the man over.
Jason said he was thinking to himself, "I'm not going to let him get away with this."
The suspect, Patrick James Foster, 49, of Wadena, allegedly blew 0.16 on a Breathalyzer test, double the legal limit in Minnesota. His license had been canceled in Minnesota due to traffic violations and two previous DWIs. He was charged Feb. 10 with gross-misdemeanor DUI, DWI and driving after cancellation counts.
Jason said during the 7-8 mile pursuit, his wife's contractions turned out to be false labor due to the stress of the incident. She's due to have the child in mid-April.
Do call, don't endanger
Wadena Police Chief Bruce Uselman said the proliferation of cell phones has, on balance, been good for law enforcement. But he warned people not to take risks when they witness a crime.
"We encourage people to call 911 from their cell phones, but not to endanger themselves or anyone else," he said.
Uselman said people who are willing to report crimes, and especially suspicious drivers, have led to better enforcement of the law.
"They're our eyes and ears," he said. "It's that instant information -- the dispatcher can now get a play-by-play."