FLANDREAU, S.D. – Law enforcement in Flandreau, Moody County and beyond are mourning the death of Chief Deputy Sheriff Ken Prorok.
Forty-year-old Joseph Hoek of Sioux Falls is charged with first degree murder and aggravated eluding in the case.
It was a foggy morning as deputies escorted Hoek into the Moody County Courthouse. It’s been three days since he’s accused of leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase on Highway 34. It ended with the death of Chief Deputy Prorok near the near the Colman exit on Interstate 29.
Attorney General Marty Jackley says Prorok was placing spike strips on the highway.
“An eyewitness indicated he saw an intentional swerve and that Chief Deputy was hit and killed at the scene,” Jackley said.
According to court documents, that witness attempted to give Prorok first-aid until law enforcement could get there. Once officers arrived, the witness ran after Hoek and held him until authorities caught up.
“My heartfelt thank you to that witness. I know who you are, I appreciate what you did,” Moody County Sheriff Troy Wellman said. “I know that you wish you could’ve done more but I want you to know that we all appreciate that you stopped to help.”
Wellman says losing Prorok leaves a hole in the department.
“Words can’t say what we’re going through right now. ‘I don’t know’ is my typical answer. And, yes, I’m doing okay because that’s the only thing we know to do in law enforcement,” Wellman said. “All of us know, unfortunately, that this is a risk that we take. And now this being the second line-of-duty death in Moody County that I’m affiliated with — once as a deputy and once as a sheriff– I don’t ever want to have to do it again.”
If he’s found guilty of murder, Hoek could face life in prison or the death penalty. His next court hearing is set for Friday
Court documents say authorities found several containers of cold medicine pills, THC vapes and marijuana in Hoek’s car.
When authorities interviewed his mother, she said Hoek was suffering from mental health issues and was self medicating. She and other family members have gotten protection orders against Hoek in recent months.
Sioux Falls Police were also looking for Hoek on Friday.
Prior to the chase in Lake and Moody Counties, authorities believe he violated a protection order and slashed the tires of at least 16 cars on the south side of the Sioux Falls.
“Some people saw it taking place, other people saw the vehicle that the suspect got into and eventually we were able to figure out who this suspect was,” Sioux Falls Police Public Information Officer Sam Clemens said.
The crimes happened outside an apartment building where Hoek wasn’t supposed to go. Police say he may also be to blame for slashing several tires at a business across the street
At the Moody County Courthouse, Prorok’s patrol car sits in memoriam. As officers walked past it to attend the hearing of the suspect in Prorok’s death, they touched the car in respect.
Those who knew Prorok best will remember him as a husband, father and grandfather.
His body was escorted from George Boom Funeral Home in Sioux Falls to the funeral home handling his arrangements in Flandreau.
His hearse was near the front of the line followed by nearly 50 patrol cars from various agencies.
His visitation will be Wednesday evening at Chester Area High School. His funeral is Thursday morning at Dakota Prairie Playhouse in Madison.