UPDATED: High-Speed Chase Ends In Crash Outside Blooming Prairie Elementary School
On Friday morning, a high-speed chase ended just outside Blooming Prairie Elementary School.
The incident began around 7:30 a.m. with a traffic stop for a seat belt violation on Interstate 90 and Highway 16, near Elkton. The suspect, Jerry Lee Castilleja, age 45, got out of the pick-up and the deputy instructed the suspect to get back into the vehicle. According to Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi, Castilleja got back in the vehicle, put it in reverse, hit the deputy’s vehicle and then sped off.
According to reports, Castilleja led deputies on a chase throughout Mower County, through Brownsdale and onto U.S. Highway 218. Stop spikes were set up on 218, but Castilleja was able to maneuver around them. Castilleja also crashed, broadside, into another Mower County Deputy’s vehicle but was able to continue fleeing. The chase even continued through a cornfield.
At times, the pursuit reached speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.
As the chase entered the community of Blooming Prairie, deputies called off the chase, noting that it was then approaching 8 a.m. and students were on their way to school. “The deputy saw kids and called it off,” said Amazi.
Officials stated that Castilleja, however, continued to speed through town, approaching the elementary school.
“He had no concern for anybody else’s safety,” said Blooming Blooming Prairie Police Chief Greg Skillestad, adding that he appreciates that deputies attempted to call off the pursuit before entering Blooming Prairie.
As the vehicle approached the intersection of Center Avenue North, along First Street Northwest, a construction worker observed the situation and intentionally drove his pay loader into the path of the vehicle, effectively ending the chase.
Despite the multiple collisions that occurred throughout the morning, no one was injured.
The Minnesota State Patrol, Mower County Sheriff’s Office, Steele County Sheriff’s Office, Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office, Austin Police Department and Blooming Prairie Police Department responded to the scene.
Castilleja is currently in custody in Mower County and faces numerous alleged felony charges. Initially, Castilleja was suspected of giving officers a false name.
Thanks to teamwork that extended across multiple counties and the construction worker’s bravery, Castilleja was brought into custody and no one was injured.
“Thankfully, there were no injuries,” said Amazi. She did note that two Mower County vehicles were damaged that morning.