Trial ordered after high-speed chase, theft

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100-mph pursuit the morning after Christmas
By: 

Warren Bluhm, wbluhm@newmedia-wi.com


Keith A. Smet (Courtesy Oconto County Sheriff's Department)

A Lena man was bound over for trial in Oconto County Circuit Court on Jan. 24 in connection with a 19-mile high-speed chase in the early morning hours of Dec. 26.

Keith A. Smet, 31, faces a felony charge of fleeing an officer, along with six misdemeanor counts of theft and a misdemeanor charge of resisting or obstructing an officer.

He also received tickets for unreasonable and imprudent speed, reckless driving endangering safety, speeding, failure to stop at a stop sign, and failure to pull over for a traffic officer.

According to the criminal complaint, the incident began when a resident of Grosse Court in the town of Stiles noticed a sport utility vehicle with a loud exhaust driving around the neighborhood and stopping in the driveways of each house along the road.

An Oconto County sheriff’s deputy responded to the report and spotted an SUV meeting the description. When he began to follow, the vehicle took off at a high rate of speed, racing through a stop sign and heading north on County Road I toward Oconto Falls.

The deputy activated his lights and followed the SUV at speeds that reached 100 mph as they passed Oconto Falls High School, the complaint said. The pursued driver went through another stop sign at state Highway 22, turning east.

Spike strips were deployed west of the Duame Road intersection, deflating two of the SUV’s tires, but the driver kept going on the metal rims, turning south on U.S. 141 and now throwing debris and sparks, the complaint said.

The SUV was going much slower — between 23 and 60 mph — but the driver would not stop until a state trooper executed a successful PIT (pursuit intervention technique) maneuver, causing the SUV to spin out by driving parallel and slightly behind, then steering sharply into the back side panel of the pursued vehicle.

Smet was in possession of another man’s photo ID but clearly was not the man in the photo, and he would not give his real identity for some time after his arrest, the complaint said. Once he did identify himself, a check showed he had an outstanding warrant from the state probation and parole office.

According to the complaint, police searching the impounded vehicle found mail from several addresses in the Machickanee area along with a stolen laptop computer.

Smet was being held in the Oconto County Jail in lieu of $5,000 cash bond. He waived his right to a preliminary hearing and is scheduled to enter a plea Feb. 14 before Oconto County Judge Michael T. Judge.