A Council Bluffs man who the State Patrol says likely set a state record for speed on a public highway when he reached 188 mph on his motorcycle while fleeing from authorities in 2009, was found guilty Wednesday by a jury in Pottawattamie County, of eluding a peace officer. A pilot who tracked 39-year old James Foldenauer said Thursday, that Foldenauer drove on shoulders and the centerline to pass traffic.
James Foldenauer (Pott. Co. Jail photo)
District Associate Judge Craig Dreismeier convicted Foldenauer for excessive speed for driving 188 mph in a 70-mph zone. The man is scheduled to be sentenced on March 8th. Assistant Pottawattamie County Attorney Tom Nelson said he will likely seek the maximum penalty, which is two years in prison for the eluding charge, an aggravated misdemeanor.
The chase started after a trooper clocked Foldenauer and another motorcyclist traveling at 89 mph in a construction zone on Interstate Highway 29 near Missouri Valley, on August 5th, 2009. Trooper Bryan Michelsen with the Iowa State Patrol, said the other motorcyclist, a woman, stopped, but Foldenauer accelerated and reached 188 near, Honey Creek. He was driving a 2003 Suzuki Hayabusa. Two Iowa State Patrol officers on the ground and one in the air pursued Foldenauer, but neither of the police cars could keep up with the cycle.
While the Troopers on the ground couldn’t keep up with the cycle, Iowa State Patrol pilot Pigsley followed it by air to an Omaha residence, where Foldenauer was arrested by Omaha police. Foldenauer’s lawyer, Michael Murphy, says that the motorcyclist the Iowa State Patrol tracked that day was not Foldenauer. He told the jury Foldenauer’s motorcycle was “An orange motorcycle, kind of a bright orange.” He said the witnesses identified a red motorcycle as being involved in the chase, but the jury didn’t buy it. Murphy said that as of Thursday, Foldenauer still had his driver’s license, but Dena Gray-Fisher, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Transportation, said that Foldenauer’s license will be revoked one year for excessive speeding, and that he can request a work permit. Online court records show Foldenauer has been cited for previous, less serious traffic offenses.
Trooper Michelsen said no one knows for sure why Foldenauer didn’t stop, and the man hasn’t confessed to the incident. Michelsen said he thought the speed the motorcyclist reached that day was a state record and possibly a national record, although Iowa Department of Transportation officials could not confirm that. The closest record he says he could find, was the Minnesota Highway Patrol clocking a motorcycle at 205 mph. The manager of a Des Moines Suzuki dealership told the Des Moines Register that 188 mph is about as fast as a Hayabusa could reach, but an owner could modify one to go even faster. The bike retails for about $14,000.