A case involving a high-speed chase that started in Barron, included three crashes, and ended with a foot pursuit behind a Rice Lake convenience store, ended with a four-year prison sentence for a Chippewa county man on Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, in Barron County Circuit Court.
Defendant Brian W. Savina, of Stanley, reached a deal with county prosecutors Oct. 9, agreeing to plead guilty to three charges, including second-degree reckless endangerment, fleeing and eluding an officer, and hit-and-run causing personal injury, in exchange for dismissal of seven other charges, court records said.
Savina’s total sentence involves 10 years and includes six years of extended supervision, and was reduced by 112 days already served. He is eligible for the state’s “challenge incarceration” (boot camp) and substance abuse programs, court records said.
The criminal complaint said the incident began on June 20, when dispatchers told a Barron officer about a hit-and-run accident at the intersection of County Hwy. M and U.S. Hwy. 8, on the east side of the city. The officer learned the suspect vehicle was speeding west into Barron driving a blue Chevrolet Equinox.
The officer parked near the intersection of Eighth Street and Hwy. 8 and saw the suspect vehicle go past him. He began to follow the SUV, then saw it use the left turn lane to pass a moving semi tractor trailer.
When the officer turned on his emergency lights, the Equinox kept going, made a U-turn through the Cenex/Mega gas station at Mill Street and Hwy. 8, and fled eastbound on Hwy. 8 at an estimate speed of 65 mph.
By the time the fleeing vehicle passed Swant Graber Motors, it was going an estimated 100 mph. Concerned about other vehicles that might be involved in an accident, the city officer gave up the chase between Barron and Rice Lake.
In the meantime, a Barron County Sheriff’s deputy, responding to the same call, heard a report that the suspect vehicle had hit some traffic signs in the roundabout near Walmart and County Hwy. O.
Minutes later, there was another report that a blue SUV had been in a hit-and-run accident in front of Lampert Yards, Rice Lake. While still trying to locate the suspect, the deputy was then told that (apparently) the same SUV had caused another accident in the construction zone at the interchange for Wisconsin Hwy. 48 and U.S. Hwy. 53. The deputy found the suspect vehicle disabled on the side of Hwy. 48.
An off-duty police officer was nearby and told the deputy that the driver had just run into a parking lot behind a convenience gas station near the interchange. The deputy found and arrested the defendant near where the off-duty officer had seen the suspect run away.
At Marshfield Medical Center, Rice Lake, Savina was given a blood test. Afterward, Rice Lake police impounded and searched the vehicle and found 11 syringes, one of which contained a substance that tested positive as methamphetamine.
Later, the Barron officer who began the chase confirmed that the impounded SUV was the same one he had tried to stop earlier.
Investigators later spoke with three drivers who said the suspect vehicle had collided with them as they drove through Rice Lake.
One of the drivers and her passenger reported they were injured when the SUV hit their vehicle.
Records show Savina had been convicted of causing injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle in Bayfield County in 2005.