High-speed chase ends with crash, felony charges
Deputies say speeds reached up to 120 mph in the Friday, April 3, pursuit of 23-year-old Nickolas J. Poplawski.
The high-speed chase ended in a crash with police searching for Poplawski who fled the scene on foot.
Poplawski turned himself in at the Waupaca County jail at 5:15 p.m. Saturday, April 4.
Poplawski is charged with fleeing an officer, second-degree reckless endangerment, criminal damage to property and operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent.
Shortly after 1 a.m. Friday, April 3, Deputy Michael Richter clocked a white Chevy Sonic traveling 80 mph westbound on U.S. Highway 10 near Holiday Road in Lind.
He activated his siren and began pursuing the vehicle to make a traffic stop.
The Sonic pulled away from Richter, then exited at the State Highway 22/54 bypass, turned left onto Appletree Lane, then north on Churchill Street and immediately west on Evans Street.
Richter reported that the vehicle was traveling 50 mph on residential streets in Waupaca.
It went past Bethany Home on Berlin Street, traveling in the wrong lane, according to the criminal complaint. It continued turning onto Clark, Seventh and Royalton streets, then onto Churchill Street, and again west onto U.S. 10.
The Sonic exited again at State Highway 22, crossed the median and went immediately back onto the highway. It exited again at West Fulton, turned left, then took the eastbound exit ramp back onto U.S. 10.
It exited onto State Highway 22 and turned south. By the time the vehicle reached Rural Road, it was traveling at 120 mph, police say.
As the Sonic crossed the State 22 bridge near Rural Road, Patrol Sgt. Scott Lewis had joined the chase. Lewis passed both Richter’s squad car and the Sonic. He pulled in front of the Sonic in an attempt to block it.
The vehicle swerved back and forth in an attempt to pass Lewis’s squad car. While the Sonic was traveling south in the northbound lane, Richter pulled up beside it to box it in.
The Sonic hit the driver’s side of Richter’s squad car near Stratton Lake Road, then later lost control and crashed into the southeast ditch at the intersection of State 22 and Radley Road.
Richter stopped and exited his damaged squad car. He saw a white male with long hair and dark, knee-length shorts jump out of the Sonic and run into the woods.
Inside the Sonic, Richter found Brian Hejda, 37, in the front passenger seat.
According to the criminal complaint, Hejda told Richter that Poplawski had been the driver. He said Poplawski picked him up earlier at the Village Inn in Waupaca and drove them to Appleton where Poplawski purchased $260 worth of crystal meth.
Hejda told police that when Poplawkski saw the squad car, he started saying over and over, “I’m screwed. I’m screwed. I gotta lose them.”
The vin number on the Sonic was reported as stolen from Oklahoma. Poplawksi’s address was initially reported as an apartment in Menasha. There was an active warrant from Calumet County for his arrest.
Authorities began looking for Poplawksi and sent Code Red messages to Waupaca area residents at approximately 4 a.m. Friday, alerting them that the suspect had fled on foot.
When Poplawski turned himself in at the jail, he told deputies he had been homeless since his eviction in October 2014, the complaint says. Poplawski said he has been using and dealing meth since October 2014.
Poplawski remains in custody on a $2,000 cash bail. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on April 14.