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Paul Nix

It started as a traffic stop for expired plates, but escalated into a police chase that stretched across two counties.

And it continued as a search Wednesday, well after authorities arrested a Grawn woman, 25, who hid in a wooded area near Crystal Mountain ski area with her two young children.

Authorities won't close the loop on their investigation until they find the woman's ex-con husband, who they believe led the police chase and escaped in the woods. Paul Nix, 38, remained free Wednesday afternoon as deputies continued to scour the area.

The incident began early Wednesday, when Grand Traverse sheriff's deputies spotted a vehicle with expired plates in Garfield Township. Deputies attempted to stop the vehicle, but said Nix refused and led them on a lengthy chase.

Benzie sheriff's deputies assisted in the pursuit after the vehicle entered Colfax Township along Karlin Road. Nix drove up a ski hill at Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa in Thompsonville, then crashed into a 1,600-foot recreational slide, Benzie Sheriff Rory Heckman said.

Authorities removed the vehicle from the ski hill Wednesday, and officials have yet to determine damage costs.

Nix and his wife exited the vehicle with their two young children, climbed down the ski hill, crossed M-115 and hid in the woods, Heckman said. Tracking dogs located the woman and children in the woods, but Nix eluded them. The woman and her children weren't injured.

The woman remained in the Grand Traverse County Jail on Wednesday, pending charges. Her children were turned over to relatives.

Benzie sheriff's deputies also plan to request a malicious destruction of property charge against Nix.

Nix was convicted in 1994 of escaping from jail and felonious assault, Michigan Department of Corrections records show. He was released from prison in January 2010.

Authorities asked the public to help them track down Nix, who they believe is armed with a weapon. He is described as a black male who is 5'6" and weighs about 160 pounds. Anyone with information on Nix's whereabouts is asked to call Grand Traverse County's non-emergency dispatch number at 922-4550.

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