Fleeing OWI Suspect Claims 'Crazy' Plow Driver Was After Him
Tosa man kept trying to escape for more than 3 miles, bouncing off snowbanks, because, he insisted, he thought a snowplow had it in for him.
A 47-year-old Wauwatosa man is charged not only with his second drunken driving offense but with a felony count of fleeing an officer, according to a criminal complaint.
The man's excuse for failing to stop? He said he thought he was being chased by a crazed snowplow driver.
Brian A. Barwick was charged Friday in Waukesha County Circuit Court after Elm Grove police said they chased him at high speed for 3.2 miles, well into Wauwatosa, before he ploughed into a snowdrift he couldn't get out of.
Barwick, if convicted on both counts, would face up to six months in jail on the OWI charge and up to three years and six months in prison on the fleeing charge.
According to the complaint:
At about 1 a.m. last Thursday, an Elm Grove officer clocked Barwick at 62 mph in a 45-mph zone, eastbound in the 13000 block of Blue Mound Road. He followed, caught up after a few blocks and hit his lights.
Barwick, he said, at first slowed nearly to a stop, but then suddenly hit the gas. The officer noted that Barwick was then just shy of 124th Street, the border between Elm Grove and Wauwatosa, and also between Waukesha and Milwaukee counties.
The officer noted that Barwick sped two blocks and slowed almost to a stop again, signaling to the right, but then took off again when the squad car, lights still flashing, came up behind him.
The stop and start pursuit continued for more than 3 miles, the officer said, during which time Barwick slid into and bounced off snowbanks a number of times, drove often in the oncoming traffic lanes and forced one oncoming driver off the road.
Finally, Barwick came a cropper in a snowbank in the 11700 block of West Dearbourne Avenue, just a few blocks from his home. By then, several officers had gotten on his tail and all approached him together.
Barwick at first couldn't get his window open on several attempts. Once he did and officers told him to get out, they said, he began yelling incoherently. Calming a little, he complained that he didn't know what was going on — which must have had some truth to it.
He had to be forcibly removed from his car and handcuffed. He complained that his final accident was the fault of the closest pursuing officer.
Barwick was taken to the Elm Grove police station for sobriety tests, which he either failed to perform adequately or couldn't perform at all. He agreed to a breath test to determine his blood alcohol, but couldn't or wouldn't perform that properly either and so was taken for a mandatory blood draw.
Asked whether he cared to make a statement, Barwick said he wouldn't. But the arresting officer noted for the record that during booking Barwick repeatedly insisted he'd only had a few drinks and never knew, and still didn't believe, that he was being chased by a squad car.
Rather, he claimed, it was a snowplow driver, "driving crazy," who had it in for him.
"He was crazy," Barwick said of the imaginary plow driver.