It’s been a month since a high-speed chase through the small town of Sioux Center ended with the driver’s vehicle fully inside a home.
According to multiple media reports, Semon Lionardo Lopez Lopez was allegedly involved in a hit-and-run at Casey’s General Store. Lopez Lopez fled before police arrived.
However, an officer met the vehicle at a different location in town. That’s when the chase happened.
Sioux Center police chief Mike Halma told media the officer was traveling at 65 miles an hour at one point during the chase. Halma added there were no close calls during the chase, which is incredible considering the entire chase happened in a residential neighborhood and ended with the car fully lodged in someone’s kitchen.
The name of the driver wasn’t released for a day or two after the incident. Once the name was released, I contacted Sioux County and Sioux Center officials asking for more information.
The Hispanic population has increased quite a bit in Sioux Center. In 2019, Edgar Diego pled guilty to assault with intent to commit sexual abuse and possession of marijuana. An investigation determined Diego had sex with the minor in his home, and it was during a search of the home the marijuana was found.
Diego will be released to ICE to begin deportation proceedings when he completes his sentence.
In 2017, there was a reported incident of a minor female running along a bike trail when two males allegedly appeared and tried to grab the female, who was able to continue running and got away.
That incident was reported to the Sioux Center Police Department on Sept. 7, but it didn’t appear in media or become publicly known until Oct. 4. According to the information shared with media, while official nationality was unknown, it was said they were “possibly Hispanic.”
The immigration status of Lopez Lopez is not publicly known. We asked Halma, Sioux County Sheriff Dan Altena and Sioux County Attorney, Tom Kunstle.
Altena said his office is handling the investigation of a possible OWI or drugged offense.
“Because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, I can’t provide any details,” he said.
He noted that criminal charges pursuant to the pursuit itself would come from the Sioux Center Police Department. And that I could check with Kunstle for any further information.
“Unfortunately, because it is an ongoing criminal investigation, I or my office are not able to provide further comments at this time,” Kunstle said.
It was a couple weeks ago when someone told me they had heard Lopez Lopez was released from the hospital, and nobody knows where he is.
I again reached out to officials to ask if anyone could confirm that Lopez Lopez is in custody.
“I can confirm Lopez-Lopez is not in the Sioux County jail,” Kunstle said.
When asked for Lopez Lopez’s date of birth, I was told he had given a couple. The one I was given and submitted to ICE did not produce any results.
To this day I have not been able to locate charges filed against Lopez Lopez on Iowa Courts Online.
An open records request has been filed with the Sioux Center Police Department, but those records are not likely to be released until the investigation is complete.
Sioux County was considered a “sanctuary county” in Iowa up until the Iowa Legislature passed a bill that would restrict funding to counties that refused to cooperate with ICE.
Sioux County refused to honor ICE detainer requests prior to that law taking effect. That was a decision Altena made under the advisement of Kunstle.
***Featured photo from Sioux County Radio Facebook page***
Earlier we wrote about a high-speed chase that happened in Sioux Center on March 18. This incident was an extremely close call. It doesn’t take much for something to have been slightly different to see where death could have easily resulted from this incident. The safety of the public and the community was at high risk.
The driver of the vehicle, Semon Lionardo Lopez Lopez, was taken to the hospital after the chase ended and then transferred to a Sioux Falls hospital.
As of March 26, The Iowa Standard was told it was believed Lopez Lopez was still in the hospital. A few days later, word around Sioux Center was the hospital released Lopez Lopez and nobody knew where he was.
When asked if the sheriff, county attorney or chief of police could confirm that Lopez Lopez was in custody, no answer was given. The incident is an “ongoing investigation” which means answers are difficult to come by.
The Iowa Standard has filed an open records request with the Sioux Center Police Department seeking more details about the incident.
Many questions remain.
Among them, why was he released from the hospital without law enforcement being notified? Why did it take three weeks for an arrest warrant to be issued? Is he in custody? If not, is law enforcement aware of his whereabouts? Where was he employed?
Who was the car he was driving registered to? Where is the car now? If Lopez Lopez isn’t found, who pays his medical bills? If Lopez Lopez isn’t found, who covers the home repairs?
According to the list of warrants online, Lopez Lopez was charged with OWI (1st), failure to maintain control, failure to obey stop sign/yield, eluding-injury, OWI, offense, no valid driver’s license, unsafe turn/fail to give signal, driving wrong side of 2-way highway, speeding and reckless driving.
According to the list of arrests, Lopez Lopez has not yet been arrested.
Hopefully, some of these questions are answered sooner rather than later. The public deserves to know exactly what happened in this situation and how.
And they should be assured it is being taken deadly serious because it was a potentially deadly situation.