Did Smokey and the Bandit pay a visit to FL?

FL police can’t catch fast black Pontiac Trans Am

Cliff Buchan
News Editor

Did characters from the 1977 movie sensation “Smokey and the Bandit” pay Forest Lake a visit last week? Could it be possible?

While there have been no official sightings of actors Burt Reynolds and Sally Field, there was a black Pontiac Trans Am in town last week. It was fast and Forest Lake police could not catch it.

What started as a chase in downtown Forest Lake came to a quick end on northbound I-35 as local officers could not keep pace with the fast car which accelerated to speeds estimated at 140 miles an hour, according to Chief of Police Rick Peterson.

It all started at 9:15 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3 when a city officer on patrol observed the black Pontiac Trans Am driving the wrong way in a one-way street on the north end of the municipal parking near Lakeside Memorial Park.

The officer was able to obtain the license plate number, Peterson said, but the number was not on file with state records. The officer followed the car as it turned west on 2nd Avenue NE and hurriedly turned south on Lake Street (US-61) pulling in front and cutting off a second vehicle that was also traveling south.

As the Trans Am moved through the Lake and Broadway roundabout and continued west on Broadway, speeds increased to 60-90 miles an hour, the chief said. The officer followed the fleeing car to northbound I-35 where the Trans Am gained speeds that were clocked at 140 miles an hour, Peterson added.

The Forest Lake officer continued the chase to north of Wyoming where the pursuit was called off. The Minnesota State Patrol and police agencies all along I-35 to the north of Forest Lake were alerted to the chase, but the car was not found, Peterson said.

Peterson said officers will work on tracking down the vehicle owner and will continue to pursue the license plate number to see if it can be traced to the vehicle owner.

2nd Area Pursuit

Media reports of a second high-speed chase that involved I-35 and the Forest Lake area did not involve city police officers, Peterson said.

Police in Minneapolis reportedly began chasing a car that had been stolen in North Minneapolis at about 6 p.m. Saturday evening. According to media reports, the chase continued north on I-35E and a number of police agencies were attempting to track the car.

Peterson said no Forest Lake officers were involved in the pursuit. Police attempting to catch the vehicle lost sight of the stolen car prior to it reaching Forest Lake, he said. Traffic was heavy at the time of the incident, he said.

“We never had a visual on the stolen car, nor do we know anything else about it,” Peterson said. He said the pursuit was cancelled by the Minneapolis Police Department and the Minnesota State Patrol when officers lost sight of the stolen vehicle.