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Secret Cocaine Buys Lead to ArrestsSubmitted: 03/25/2013

Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com


MERRILL - Two secret cocaine deals by a Tomahawk Police informant led to three drug arrests.

We told you about those arrests last week.

On Monday, Jason Echterling was in Lincoln County Court for the first time.

He's one of three people charged with felonies for dealing marijuana, cocaine, and prescription drugs.

An investigator talked about how the informant worked with police.

"We provided him with $275 of currency, also, a body wire and a recorder. At that time, we followed the informant over to the residence," testified Tomahawk Police Investigator John DuPlayee.

Tomahawk Police say Echterling sold the informant cocaine two different times.

That gave them enough evidence to carry out a search warrant and arrest Echterling and two others March 15th.

Judge John Yackel decided there was enough evidence to move forward.

Echterling pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Andrew Prokudowicz and Danielle Stevens will appear in court within the next two weeks.

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According to the Vilas County Sheriff's Office and Wisconsin State Patrol, it happened around 3:30 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. Highway 51 and County Highway H.

Investigators think a van went through an intersection and hit a semi truck.

"There was injury," said Boulder Junction Fire Chief Matthew Reuss. "The two passengers in the van had to be extricated. One was taken to Howard Young Medical Center for further care. The driver of the semi was uninjured and the second passenger in the van was pronounced dead at the scene."

According to Wisconsin State Patrol, the driver of the van is a 68-year-old woman from Colby. Crews later took her to St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield for non-life threatening injuries. Her passenger, a 77-year-old male from Colby, died in the crash. They were both wearing seatbelts. 

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Traffic was rerouted through Boulder Junction for several hours and was reopened shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Several units responded to the scene.

"Because we had multiple patients, we dispatched multiple ambulance units," Reuss said. "We called in resources from Arbor Vitae for traffic control and we called Manitowish Waters for help in extrication and ambulance service as well as Medic 5 out of Howard Young."

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Police will not release the names until the families are notified. 

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