BURNETT COUNTY––A Hinckley man has been charged with his 10th operating while intoxicated offense. He was initially found slumped over in his car when emergency medical services arrived he fled the scene and damaged over $3,000 worth of medical equipment.
Russell E. Towle, 59, Hinckley, was charged with attempting to flee/elude an officer and criminal damage to property; both are class I felony charges. He was also charged with three misdemeanor counts of possession of THC, possession of drug paraphernalia and operating a motor vehicle while revoked.
The District Attorney’s office has three other cases open related to the event that are traffic related; unsafe lane deviation, unreasonable and imprudent speed, and no ignition interlock device or inoperable.
According to the criminal complaint, on Aug. 2 around 11:15 a.m., EMS workers along with a Sheriff’s deputy were dispatched for a report of an unresponsive male slumped over the steering wheel of his car with the door open at a rest stop in the Town of Swiss. While they responded to the call Towle allegedly “took off with medical equipment.”
He then headed east on State Highway 77. Dispatch received another 911 call saying the vehicle was heading south on County Road F. During the chase, one deputy noticed “a large piece of medical equipment” and told dispatch were it was so it could be retrieved.
Deputies caught up with Towle, who was allegedly swerving all over the road, and saw the vehicle traveling north in the southbound lane with the driver’s side tire nearly off the road. Towle slowed down and turned west onto Landing Road in front of a house.
The vehicle stopped and Towle was ordered to show the officers his hands. Towle ended up driving up the lawn of the residence, one deputy followed on foot and the other went back to their squad car.
Towle eventually exited the vehicle and ran into a heavily wooded area. When deputies caught up with him, one deployed his taser and struck Towle on the right side of his back. Towle fell and had an orange prescription container clenched in his hand.
When the deputies began to talk to him, Towle’s speech was slurred, slow and there was an odor of intoxicants coming from him. Towle said he had “a couple of wine coolers.” He was then transported to Burnett Medical center for a blood draw.
EMS personnel informed the deputies that the medical equipment had been retrieved but it was damaged to the point of being destroyed. They also said the value of the equipment was over $3,000.
A search was conducted on the vehicle, and deputies said they could smell marijuana coming from the vehicle. They found a pipe, commonly used to smoke marijuana, along with the green, leafy substance in an orange pill container.
The nine prior OWI related offenses were from incidents in 1990, 1993, two in 1994, 2000, 2003 and two in 2008. Online court records show Towle was found guilty of OWI (7th, 8th, or 9th) at a jury trail and was sentenced by Judge Ken Kutz to serve three years in state prison, starting in late April of 2015. He was also sentenced to five years of extended supervision.
Towle is scheduled to make his initial appearance in front of Judge Melissia Mogen on Sept. 12. If found guilty on all charges he could face up to more than 22 years in prison and over $70,000 in fines.