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Fleeing driver swerved toward other motorists

Mike Heine/The Week

(Published Aug. 7, 2007, 4:38 p.m.)

"It was in my lane. He was coming right at me."

That was how concrete truck driver John Hanauska described seeing a turquoise car racing at him on Highway 89 the morning of May 25.

Testifying at a preliminary hearing Monday for Joshua R. Becker, Hanauska said he had to swerve to avoid being hit. If he'd gone off the road too far, he probably would have tipped his loaded truck, he said.

As it was, the truck left 100 feet of skid marks on the road, Hanauska said.

Becker, 17, of W917 Green St., Pell Lake, is accused of stealing a car and leading police on a high-speed chase from Elkhorn through downtown Delavan and into Richmond Township. Speeds were well over 100 mph, Delavan police Sgt. Todd Wiese testified.

Becker weaved into the oncoming lane several times, narrowly missing oncoming traffic, said Weise, who was the first squad in line for much of the chase.

The owner of the car, Donald Pellmann, testified that he knew his 1992 Toyota Passeo was missing May 24. He also testified that he saw the car the next day and followed it throughout Elkhorn, calling police on his cell phone to provide directions.

Before the chase, Becker had walked away from the Walworth County Huber Dorm, where he was serving a sentence for stealing a different car. He took the Passeo from a barn on Maclean Road, according to testimony.

Becker is charged with operating a vehicle without owner consent, burglary, trespassing, reckless endangerment, fleeing and escape.

He was bound over for trial, and he's due in court next on Monday, Aug. 20.


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