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Pursuit reported in Pequot Lakes involved a snake, a swamp, a K-9 officer and a boat and trailer

The Brainerd Police Department's K-9, Keno, helped nab a fleeing suspect in Pequot Lakes last weekend after a vehicle pursuit that ended with the suspect found hiding in a swamp, a snake being found in the suspect's car, and a law enforcement boa...

The Crow County Sheriff's Office’s boat trailer was hit by another car on the way to Sibley Lake, knocking the boat off on its side and the axle off the trailer.
The Crow County Sheriff's Office’s boat trailer was hit by another car on the way to Sibley Lake, knocking the boat off on its side and the axle off the trailer. Submitted Photo

The Brainerd Police Department's K-9, Keno, helped nab a fleeing suspect in Pequot Lakes last weekend after a vehicle pursuit that ended with the suspect found hiding in a swamp, a snake being found in the suspect's car, and a law enforcement boat and trailer being overturned.

Keno and his handler, Sgt. Paul Dooley, were requested to help the Pequot Lakes Police Department after a vehicle pursuit suspect fled into the woods near Sibley Lake on Saturday, May 27.

Pequot Lakes Police Chief Eric Klang said Officer Steve Emerson was eating lunch at the Dairy Queen in Pequot Lakes early Saturday afternoon when he spotted Robbie Alan Orth, 32, in the Dairy Queen's drive-through. Orth had an outstanding felony warrant, and when Emerson tried to pull Orth over, the suspect fled in his vehicle, Klang said. The high-speed pursuit lasted for about a mile, until Orth allegedly bailed out of the vehicle and fled on foot.

Orth then hid in a marshy area adjacent to the lake, Klang said.

The responding Minnesota State Patrol helicopter picked up an anomaly on its FLIR imaging system, Klang said, but they were unsure what it was because Orth was crouched down.

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Keno pinpointed where Orth was hiding, Klang said. Orth was initially reluctant to come out, so officers requested a boat team from the Crow County Sheriff's Office to help to go in and get him. However, the boat team's trailer was hit by another car on the way to the site, knocking the boat off on its side and the axle off the trailer, Klang said.

Eventually, the cold water prompted Orth to wade out on his own, Klang said.

Inside Orth's vehicle, police opened a bag to find what Klang described as a 5-foot-long "blow snake." Unable to positively identify the snake as non-venomous at the time, police euthanized it, Klang said.

The snake was likely a western hognose snake, commonly referred to as a "blow" snake, Klang said. Native to North America, including Minnesota, the western hognose can be confused for the more dangerous rattlesnake due to the similar pattern on its back. The western hognose, however, is nonvenomous.

Up until Saturday, Orth had repeatedly slithered out of the grasp of police.

"We've tried to arrest him a number of times, and many times he's evaded us," Klang said. "We just haven't been able to get him because the dog hasn't been available, or Trooper 7 (State Patrol helicopter) hasn't been available. But this time, everything lined up."

In addition to the original warrant, Orth now faces more charges related to fleeing police, Klang said.

A Pequot Lakes reserve officer also was on hand for the pursuit and events that followed.

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