Missing tubers steal car

Published 10:58 am Thursday, June 16, 2016

An Austin woman and a Minneapolis man are facing felony charges after they allegedly got lost while tubing on the Root River and took a 2014 Chevy Equinox from a home over the weekend.

Jessi Lynn Kominek, 25, of Austin was charged in Fillmore County court Monday with two counts of felony theft for taking or driving a motor vehicle without owner consent and two misdemeanor charges of tampering with a motor vehicle-riding in or on without owner permission and enter without owner’s permission.



Joshua Allen Vlasaty, 30, of Minneapolis was also charged with two counts of felony theft for taking or driving a motor vehicle with no owner consent and misdemeanor tamper with motor vehicle-entering without owner permission.

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The incident ensued when Kominek’s grandmother called police around 10:05 p.m. on June 11 to report that Kominek and Vlasaty had gone tubing around 6:30 p.m. at the Old Barn Resort on the Root River near Preston and Lanesboro, Minnesota, but they hadn’t returned with the inner tube they’d borrowed, according to court records.

A neighbor said the two had been drinking heavily and brought a bottle of alcohol with them.

A search ensued. Deputies checked the bike trail and areas near the resort, while the Lanesboro Fire Department and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officers were paged out to assist and used boats to search the river.

At about 12:56 a.m., firefighters searching near Graceful Road saw a home with yard lights on and an attached garage with an exterior light on. The garage doors were open with one vehicle inside with a door open, but no one was found in that vehicle.

However, officers saw a fresh set tire tracks that appeared as if someone backed out of the garage and drove away.

Police knew the owner of the property and tried to wake someone up to see if a vehicle was missing, but no one was home. Officers learned the home’s owner was in Norway, but a gold 2014 Chevy Equinox belonging to a friend that was also in Norway was missing

At about 6:07 a.m. on June 12, officers found Kominek and Vlasaty in their 2000 Dodge Caravan on Heron Road.

The two, who were a bit scraped up and dirty, told police they contacted Kominek’s grandmother earlier to let her know they were okay.

Vlasaty said they went tubing, tipped over and were scared and lost. He added they didn’t know where they were when they took the vehicle, did not have a phone or map, and didn’t know what to do.

Officers found the stolen Equinox less than a half mile from their location.

Preliminary breath tests showed they’d been drinking but were not over the legal limit.

Later on June 12, the homeowner’s son found the pair’s borrowed inner tube in a field drive just west of the house. Officers found a bottle of Karkov vodka with a small amount left, flip flops, sun glasses and a pair of black shorts, which Vlasaty wore the previous day.

Kominek and Vlasaty were arrested and taken into custody.

Officers interviewed Kominek, who said they went to the campground after she got off work about noon. She confirmed borrowing an inner tube from a neighbor and taking a bottle of vodka with them.

She said they reached the pick up point, but kept going intending to reach Lanesboro. They later left the river when it was daylight, but the didn’t know where they were.

They climbed a hill, dragging the tube with them, and took a nap. When they woke, it was dark and they started to “freak out.”

Kominek told police they found the house, screamed and pounded on the doors, but no one was home. They then allegedly drove the Equinox to town and found a cell phone inside to call a relative, who wouldn’t help them.

She said they didn’t know their location or which way to go, so they picked a direction and hoped to find something.

They made their way back toward the Old Barn.

Both are scheduled to appear in court on June 20.