South Dakota trooper: Body found in blanket after car chase
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Highway Patrol officials found a dead woman wrapped in a blanket in an SUV stopped after a high-speed chase with a drunken driver from California, a trooper said in a court affidavit filed Tuesday.
A state court complaint says 30-year-old Tosten Walsh Lommen, of Santa Cruz, faces charges including aggravated eluding and drunken driving. Attorney General Marty Jackley’s office said in a statement that state authorities are investigating the “suspicious death” after the woman’s body was found during a search of the vehicle Lommen was driving.
The Pennington County Clerk of Courts office says Lommen’s bond has been set at $2.5 million. It wasn’t immediately clear if Lommen has a defense attorney to speak on his behalf about the case.
Lommen — who last year petitioned in California to change his full name to Israel — is being held in the Pennington County Jail.
Trooper Jeremy Biegert said in the court affidavit that a Highway Patrol sergeant initiated a traffic stop Monday after observing Lommen driving over 100 mph on I-90 in western South Dakota. Biegert said he joined the pursuit after recording the vehicle’s speed at 118 mph.
The vehicle, which is registered to someone else, eventually came to rest in a ditch after officials used spike strips to destroy both front tires, Biegert said. He said Lommen attempted to flee on foot before getting pulled from a chain link fence and handcuffed on the ground.
Biegert said he smelled alcohol, and a breath test found Lommen had a blood alcohol level of 0.142, which is above the DUI threshold of 0.08. Officials allegedly found a growler that smelled of alcohol and prescription bottles in the SUV.
Biegert said officials found the woman’s body in the rear of the vehicle. Attorney General spokeswoman Sara Rabern said in an email that officials are working to identify the body. She said the investigation is still ongoing when asked if authorities know why it was in the vehicle.