VIDEO: Woman asleep in car wakes up to find stranger driving

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 2:45 AM CST
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COLUMBIA COUNTY, Wis. (WMTV/Gray News) - Sheriff’s office video captured the dramatic rescue of a woman who was sleeping in her car at a rest stop when a stranger got in and drove off with her in the back seat.

WMTV obtained the 911 call and footage from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, detailing the law enforcement chase in the early hours of Jan. 14.

Court documents show the suspect, later identified as 51-year-old Kyle Wagner, was at a Love’s Truck Stop in Columbia County, Wisconsin, when he allegedly drove away in someone else’s car. A woman, who had been asleep in the back seat, said she woke up to the car being driven very fast.

In the call to 911, the victim told the dispatcher, “I was in a gas station. My husband just (got) out from the car.”

The dispatcher repeatedly asked where she was or where she was going, but the victim did not give clear road names. She pointed out signs around the city of Lodi.

The call also picked up on the victim talking with Wagner.

“You know, you should get back,” the victim said.

“I will. OK, I’m going back,” Wagner said.

“No, you are not,” the victim said.

According to the criminal complaint, the victim said Wagner told her he was a truck driver. He said there was “a conspiracy and that people wanted to kill them so he was saving her.”

The complaint said the victim “reported that Wagner told her that if her husband was worried about her, he would be calling, but he’s not calling because he’s already dead.”

Around 4 a.m., according to time stamps on squad footage, deputies can be seen chasing the car, which often swerved and crossed the center lane. Shortly before 4:30 a.m., the car can be seen hitting a guardrail and lifting into the air.

Sheriff’s Office Capt. Todd Horn said law enforcement used tire deflation devices and a chase tactic to ultimately cause the crash.

“This was all accomplished without anyone being seriously injured,” he said.

The victim came out first from the back seat and cried. She told law enforcement, “I’m OK. Who’s this guy? Who’s this guy?”

Footage shows Wagner coming out of the front seat before being taken into custody. He faces multiple felony charges: operating a motor vehicle without owner’s consent, false imprisonment, attempting to flee or elude an officer and possession of methamphetamine.

The criminal complaint said the suspect, from New York, admitted he used fentanyl and meth within 24 hours of the incident.

Horn wrote to WMTV Tuesday, “The sheriff’s office staff were very concerned about the safety of the victim and anyone else who came into contact with the suspect in this case. It’s difficult to speculate what could have potentially occurred during this incident.”

He said the victim is “doing well.”

Horn also highlighted the work of deputies, the dispatcher and the victim.

“The victim did a tremendous job of observing and then describing physical characteristics along the roadway to allow law enforcement to determine her location. She would call out road names, road signs and other features that led law enforcement to locate her and the suspect vehicle,” he said.

A $40,000 cash bond was signed for Wagner, court documents show. A pre-trial conference is set for late February with a return date in April.