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Salem man leads officers on 90 mph chase

SALEM -- A Salem man was arrested Monday for aggravated eluding -- a felony -- hit and run, reckless driving and first-offense drunken driving.

James Spath, 27, fled law enforcement late Sunday night, reaching speeds as high as 90 mph, after allegedly being involved in a hit-and-run accident on Interstate 90. Court documents state the victim of the hit and run told law enforcement Spath's vehicle had damage to the passenger side, including a broken headlight.

McCook County Deputy Sheriff Casey Urrutia spotted the vehicle at 11:06 p.m. Sunday driving east on I-90 and followed it, clocking Spath's speed at 90 mph.

Spath's vehicle swerved onto the Canistota exit going 67 mph, slowed, but ran a stop sign and re-entered the interstate going west. He accelerated back to 85-90 mph and took the Salem exit at approximately 90 mph, according to court documents.

He slowed down but ran the stop sign and turned north onto U.S. Highway 81. He again accelerated to 90 mph and entered Salem going 75 mph.

While driving toward Salem, Spath turned his lights off and on repeatedly.

A short pursuit ensued within Salem city limits at speeds between 40 and 45 mph. At one point, Spath's vehicle nearly collided with Sheriff Mark Norris' patrol vehicle. Law enforcement terminated the pursuit shortly after and found Spath at his apartment, where he tried to flee on foot, but was detained and identified.

Deputy Urrutia took Spath to Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell for a blood draw, which showed his blood alcohol level at 0.127. The blood draw was taken at 12:40 a.m. Monday. The legal driving limit in South Dakota is 0.08.

Aggravated eluding carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $4,000 fine.