Nathenael Ashenafi
Karma buries MN car thief in pile of deep manure

Man attempts to flee Prescott police

TOWN OF OAK GROVE – A St. Paul man fleeing police may have regretted his decision to drive through a cornfield when he buried a stolen car deep into a large manure pile on Nov. 6 in the town of Oak Grove.

Pierce County Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Rohl ordered Nathenael Wondwossen Ashenafi, 30, to pay $1,000 cash bail Nov. 9 on felony attempting to flee or elude an officer, felony drive or operate vehicle without consent, resisting or obstructing an officer and possession of THC. If convicted, Ashenafi faces up to 3.5 years in prison and/or fines up to $10,000.

According to the complaint: At 1:40 a.m. (Daylight Savings Time), Pierce County Dispatch notified Prescott police that a man fleeing Washington County (Minn.) police in a stolen vehicle may be headed toward Prescott on Highway 10. He was suspected to have a firearm, a hatchet and a bottle of whiskey in the car. A Prescott officer parked at Holiday (236 Broad St.) and soon thereafter, the stolen black Volkswagen sedan headed into Prescott and turned to head south on Highway 35. The vehicle had no license plates and had one occupant inside.

The officer attempted to pull the vehicle over in the 100 block of Broad Street, but the driver turned off the VW’s headlights and tail lights and began speeding. The officer called for backup and followed in pursuit. The driver threw random objects from the driver’s side window as he sped down the highway. At times he’d slow down below the speed limit and frequently operated in the opposite traffic lane, all with no lights on.

A Pierce County deputy was prepared to deploy spike strips near County Road E, but the vehicle turned right onto 1050th Street before reaching the location. The officer pursued Ashenafi down 1050th Street, which turned into 1080th Street. Near 4201 1080th St., Ashenafi drove into a cornfield and attempted to lose police that way, but officers blocked his escape back onto Highway 35. As he navigated the tree line and tried to turn around, he crashed the vehicle into a big manure pile. Ashenafi tried to get out of the vehicle through the driver’s door, but he was in such deep manure that he couldn’t open it. He escaped through the passenger side window and fled on foot. He tried to hide from officers in tall grass, but the spotlight kept him in sight until two officers took him into custody.

A St. Croix County K9 officer responded to help police search for the items Ashenafi had flung on his flight through the countryside. Officers suspected he had thrown narcotics from the vehicle, since the K9 indicated their presence, but only found a bouquet of flowers, a pair of blue shorts, a pair of white boxer shorts and later, a box cutter. A firearm or hatchet was never found, but 2.5 grams of marijuana was.

Police learned the vehicle had been stolen from a New Hope, Minn., gym while the owner was there working out. The vehicle’s keys and the owner’s wallet and cell phone were taken from a locker at the gym. The vehicle was towed to the county impound lot and Ashenafi was transported to Pierce County Jail.

He was scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Pierce County Circuit Court at 4 p.m. Nov. 14.

November 15, 2022