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Walworth County sheriff's deputy injured during pursuit

Posted at 2:06 PM, Aug 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-02 23:46:18-04

A Walworth County Sheriff's deputy is recovering after being seriously injured while attempting to stop a vehicle traveling at dangerous speeds near Lake Geneva.

The Walworth County Sheriff's Office said the incident happened just after 1 a.m. on Aug. 1. Officials say a car driven by 31-year-old Tony Perales was traveling 62 miles per hour in a 25 mile per hour zone in Lake Geneva. Perales was driving speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour on Highway 120 and failed to stop at the intersection of Highway 120 and Highway 11.

Deputy Wayne Blanchard was on Highway 120 north of Kniep Road behind a guardrail in the Town of Spring Prairie, ready to deploy a tire deflation device when Perales lost control along the shoulder and hit the guardrail.

The crash caused injuries to the passenger in Perales's vehicle, as well as Deputy Blanchard.

Blanchard was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries. Perales's passenger was taken to the hospital, treated, and then released.

Perales was taken to an area hospital for treatment and then taken to the Walworth County Jail where he is charged with fleeing and eluding, operating while intoxicated causing great bodily harm, injury by intoxicated use of motor vehicle, and operating without a driver license causing great bodily harm.

"This tragic incident is another reminder of courageous dedication by law enforcement to keep the community safe. I thank all of the first responders and medical staff for their professional care," said Sheriff Kurt Picknell. "The ongoing support from citizens is vital to the success of our public safety mission. Please keep Deputy Blanchard and his family in your thoughts and prayers."

No other details were released.

A 2012 FBI bulletin cites data from the organization, Officer Down Memorial Page, which states from 1996 to 2011, drivers struck and killed 26 officers while deploying spike strips. The bulletin states that given the danger, law enforcement agencies may consider other options when it comes to high-speed pursuits.

A GoFundMe was also started for Deputy Blanchard. As of Monday evening, $500 has been raised out of their $50,000 goal. Organizer Linda Jones writes "Blanch is an outstanding husband, son, friend, colleague, father and grandfather that has dedicated his life to serving others. From his service as a U.S. Marine, to his work as a police officer throughout his 20+ year career (with accolades that that include 2010 SWAT Officer of the Year), to his volunteerism with organizations such as the Blue Knights and Special Olympics, the footprint of the lives he has touched is immeasurable."

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