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Published January 07, 2013, 04:55 PM

Police investigate a Mahnomen man's death and reason for high-speed chase

Felton, MN (WDAY TV) -- The Clay County Sheriff's Office is investigating a Mahnomen man's death, trying to figure out why he started a high-speed chase.

Felton, MN (WDAY TV) -- The Clay County Sheriff's Office is investigating a Mahnomen man's death, trying to figure out why he started a high-speed chase.

That chase led to a rollover, an on-foot pursuit, and then, a 2-day search for his body.

Sheriff Bill Bergquist/Clay Co.: "Soon as the deputy swung around, the vehicle sped up quite a bit more..."

That's the beginning of a tragic story that started at 1:30 Saturday morning, along Highway 9 south of Felton. The driver sped up, and turned east quickly onto County Road 108. At this T in the road, 24-year-old Jordan Oppegard, from Mahnomen, lost control of his vehicle, rolling it, with two others inside.

Bergquist: "Our officers saw two sets of footprints that ran from the vehicle."

Deputies followed the trail of 23-year-old Clifford Sargent, who fled south of here. Sargent later admitted he was picked up by another vehicle.

Oppegard fled through this gravel pit. It's not yet sure why the victim ran. Deputies tried to follow his tracks for hours, but cold weather stopped them short.

Berguist: " I'm sure they're hurting too. Could they have done more? I don't know. We have lights..."

The search resumed Sunday, with snowmobiles, ATVs, and on foot, all because one of the two uncooperative passengers called the Clay County Sheriff's Office, saying they couldn't find their friend who fled.

Bergquist; "They seem to be cooperating more right now. Obviously they lost a friend, and know how tragic this event was."

The victim's body was found here, more than two miles away from where the rollover happened. The sheriff says they're not quite sure exactly what caused the man's death, but say alcohol, or injuries from the accident, could be to blame.

No charges have been filed for either passenger.

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