Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker
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A woman was rescued from icy waters Thursday after falling into Lake George in River Falls. Firefighters on scene said the woman, whose identity wasn’t immediately available, was attempting to save a dog that had fallen through the ice. The woman was seen being pulled to shore by firefighters before raising herself up on the riverbanks under her own power; she was immediately loaded into an ambulance.
Four people, including three children, were hospitalized after a three-vehicle traffic crash Monday on Highway 10 in rural Ellsworth. The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said the crash was reported at 4:17 p.m. March 5 near 800th Street in the town of Trimbelle, where a westbound Ford Explorer and an eastbound Chevy Silverado collided head-on.The Chevy was then rear-ended by a third vehicle. The driver of the Chevy, Randall J. Hendrickson, 67, Prescott, was trapped and had to be extricated. He was taken by ambulance to River Falls Area Hospital (RFAH).
HUDSON — A St. Croix County judge has sentenced a Somerset man to more than 30 years for an array of sex offenses, including crimes against children. Judge Scott Needham sentenced Richard Maness Wednesday, Feb. 28, to 12 years in prison and 20 years on extended supervision.
The son of Prescott's former police chief faces a felony drug charge after officers searched a house he was at last week. Pierce County prosecutors charged Joseph R. Krutke Friday, Feb. 23, with felony marijuana possession with intent to deliver and misdemeanor drug paraphernalia possession. He was released from jail later that day on a signature bond. According to the complaint: Prescott police took a harassment report Feb. 22 from the late chief's fiancee. She reported Joseph Krutke, who lived with her, had been harassing her since Gary Krutke died in August 2017.
Francis Johnson, 70, died shortly after collapsing while riding his bike early that morning on Second Street near Locust Street. A memorial service for Johnson will be 4-7 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at O’Connell-Benedict Funeral Home in River Falls. A prayer service begins at 3:30 p.m. Community members plan to wear orange on Friday, March 2, in honor of Johnson. Participating groups include Chartwells staff at UW-River Falls, campus University Center workers, CHILD Center staff and some River Falls School District staff.
The Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce honored its top businesses with the community-voted "Best of" awards at its annual banquet Monday, Feb. 19 at Kilkarney Hills in River Falls.
Arrests, tickets follow crashes • A deputy on patrol encountered a two-car crash Feb. 16 at 1005th Street and Highway 35 in Hager City. Occupants sustained minor injuries. A River Falls resident was cited for unsafe lane deviation. • Deputies were dispatched Feb. 17 to a rollover crash at 920th Street and Highway 65 near River Falls, where they learned the incident had occurred several hours earlier. The driver said he forgot to call 911 at the time of the crash. Several tickets were issued.
HUDSON — A former girls basketball coach accused of molesting a babysitter erupted into uncontrollable sobs Friday after a judge sentenced him to prison. The 20-year sentence, issued by St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Scott Needham, is five years longer than what was sought by prosecution for 43-year-old Louis J. French. The judge’s sentence calls for the Hudson man to spend 10 years in prison and 10 years on extended supervision.
Raids on two St. Croix County homes this week yielded what authorities said was about 275 pounds of suspected marijuana. St. Croix County prosecutors said the drugs were found stashed in nearby homes in the town of Eau Galle while serving search warrants on Wednesday, Feb. 21.
The aftermath of a Super Bowl-timed sex crime sting revealed details from more suspects rounded up this month in St. Croix County. Criminal complaints against two Hudson men and a Woodville man outlined state and local efforts to target child pornography. Two of those cases were launched after Hudson police got word about suspected child porn being discovered by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The organization passed information along to the state's Department of Justice, which disseminated the complaints to local law enforcement.