Local News

Special Patrols Uncovering Guns

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Police are reporting positive results in combating an uptick in gun violence.

 

Officers conducting special patrols confiscated two handguns and drugs while making two arrests during traffic stops.

 

According to police reports, Sgt. Mike Oberle stopped a vehicle for a moving violation Sunday night in the Oak Street and Belden Avenue area. After a K9 detected the presence of drugs, five people stepped out of the vehicle. A 9 mm handgun, an extended 9 mm magazine, and a small amount of marijuana were located inside the vehicle during a search.

 

The owner of the gun was not known. No arrests were reported.

 

Early Tuesday, police said Officer Matthew Babcock observed a moving violation in the area of Wabash Street and 8th Street and conducted a traffic stop. A search of the vehicle uncovered a firearm, marijuana, and other drug paraphernalia.

 

The driver, 20-year-old Ian Williams, of Michigan City, was taken into custody and charged with Possession of a Narcotic Drug, a Level 6 Felony, in addition to Carrying a Handgun without a License and Dealing Marijuana, Class-A misdemeanors.

Repairs Promised in Mailbox Destruction

(La Porte County, IN) - An 18-year-old driver has promised to fix the mailboxes he struck with his father’s vehicle near Michigan City.

 

Dylan Mays could be charged if he doesn’t live up to his promise, according to La Porte County Police, who were called Friday evening to the 6800 block of West 450 North.

 

Police say Mays ran over four mailboxes driving a large Dodge Ram truck wheel. One of the mailboxes belonged to Robert Andersen, who jumped into his vehicle and went after the truck. Eventually, Mays stopped and apologized to Andersen.

 

Mays, who resides in the Michigan City area, explained the sun was in his eyes and, while reaching for his sunglasses, took his eyes off the road and hit the mailboxes. Police said Mays agreed to buy the supplies to fix the mailboxes ripped out of the ground.

 

The front passenger side of the truck was heavily damaged from the impact. The vehicle was also missing the front and back bumpers.

 

An officer advised Mayes that potential charges against him would be pursued if he did not honor his promise.

Another 20 Win Season for Slicers

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte High School baseball team won its 20th game of the season last evening by defeating Merrillville on the road 19-2.

 

Head Coach Scott Upp said a deep pitching staff and players who can perform in multiple positions are reasons for the team’s success.

 

Upp also credited his players for being dedicated to getting the most out of their ability by taking part in offseason workouts and going along with the advice of coaches to “play the game the right way.”

 

“It’s just good for them to know not just baseball-wise, but they need to understand if you work hard, good things eventually happen,” he said.

Upp said his players are also performing at a high level on defense by making the routine plays without the errors that can open the door to big run-scoring innings by the opposition.

 

“The day that we beat Lake Central. We beat them 3-0, which sounds like we really shut them down on the mound. But, what happened was they were smoking the baseball. They were rocking the baseball. It was just right for us, and we made the plays,” he said.

The 20-3 Slicers have a few more regular-season games to play before sectionals start next week at Plymouth.

Friedman Suing Stabosz for Non-Payment

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte County Auditor has been sued again.

 

La Porte County Commissioner Attorney Shaw Friedman is seeking over $120,000 from Tim Stabosz. The lawsuit claims Friedman is owed slightly more than $40,000 for work on claims that Stabosz is not paying.

 

According to the lawsuit filed by attorney David Ambers, Friedman, under state law, is entitled to three times the amount owed to him as compensation for legal expenses and other things such as lost time.

 

The lawsuit is filed against Stabosz personally, not LaPorte County. 

 

According to the lawsuit, Stabosz's withholding payment results from his personal feelings outside the scope of his duties as auditor against Friedman. The suit also contains a copy of the contract between Friedman and the La Porte County Commissioners for his service.

 

The contract stipulates that Friedman is to be paid $150.00 per hour not just for legal work but also for advice to elected officials and department heads, health and public safety matters, and crafting resolutions.

 

Other work allowed under the contract includes governmental relations and policy work as requested or required in various forums, including administrative, regulatory, and administrative settings.

 

Last year, Friedman filed a defamation of character lawsuit against Stabosz for alleging Friedman runs county government by controlling elected officials. That lawsuit remains undecided.

 

In response to the latest lawsuit, Stabosz said he's not paying claims that seem to be for things like political work and the duties of a county administrator.

 

He also said his actions have nothing to do with his personal feelings toward Friedman. Instead, Stabosz said he's reviewing the claims strictly as an auditor and withholding payment until Friedman provides more information to verify the work in question.

 

Stabosz also alleged he's being sued personally because Friedman might have to step down as county attorney until the lawsuit is decided if he sued him as an auditor. 

 

“You can’t have a lawsuit against the county with which you work for because that’s a conflict of interest.  He’d have to step down. So, he gets clever and sues me personally. We’re going to get it thrown out of court,” Stabosz said.

The lawsuit was filed in La Porte Superior Court 3.

Woman Holding Baby When Garbage Truck Demolished Home

(La Porte County, IN) - One of the people inside a garbage truck that demolished the side of a house Tuesday is from La Porte. Two other members of the crew are from southwest Michigan.

 

La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd said it appears the driver’s side front tire blew on the southbound garbage truck about noon on U.S. 35 near 400 South at Kingsbury. The truck belonged to Lakeshore Recycling and Disposal out of New Buffalo, Michigan.

 

According to police, after blowing the tire, the truck veered across the grassy median and both northbound lanes before demolishing the south side of the single-story residence.

 

Dylan Seely, 23, lived in the house with his 22-year-old wife, Simone, and their 11-month-old daughter. Seely said he was at his job in Westville when he received a phone call about the crash from his wife.

 

“She said a truck went through the house, and I got here as fast as I could,” Seely said.

Mrs. Seely told investigators she had her baby in her arms when she looked out the front window and saw the truck crash through her residence directly in front of her.

 

According to police, the driver, Jeron Higgins, 41, of Stevensville, was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle. He was transported to the hospital complaining of pain over the entire left side of his body.

 

Two other crew members, Clyde Fuller, 26, of Galien, and Chris Haverstock, 22, of La Porte, were also taken to the hospital.

 

Fuller’s face was covered in blood. He also complained of pain in his face and shoulder. Haverstock complained of pain in his left leg. One of the men was transported by helicopter to a trauma center at an outside hospital, police said.

 

Seely said his wife also wound up at the hospital, where she received stitches to one of her knees after being struck by some debris. The baby was not hurt.

 

Boyd said a dog inside the home was injured and taken to the clinic of a nearby veterinarian for treatment.

 

Seely said the damage to the house his family rented for about a year didn’t seem real. “It’s crazy,” Seely said.

 

The northbound and southbound lanes of U.S. 35 were entirely blocked to traffic for a while to allow emergency responders to go about their work safely.

 

La Porte County Hazardous Materials Coordinator Jeff Hamilton said there were no fuel or hydraulic leaks on the truck after the collision. Hamilton said he’s never worked a scene where a vehicle went entirely through a house in his 36-year career. He said it’s a wonder nobody was killed or more seriously hurt. 

 

“A lot of lucky people here today. A lot of lucky people here today,” Hamilton said.

Garbage Truck Destroys House

(Kingsbury, IN) - A garbage truck crashed completely through the side of a house in La Porte County this afternoon.  Miraculously, perhaps, a woman and her baby inside the home were not seriously injured.  The crash happened about noon on U.S. 35 near 400 South at Kingsbury.

 

La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd said it appears one of the front tires blew on the southbound garbage truck which veered across the grassy median and the northbound lanes before demolishing the south side of the single story residence.  

 

Dylan Seely, 23, lived in the house with his 22-year old wife, Simone, and their 11 month old daughter.  Seely said he was at his job in Westville when he received a phone call from his wife.  “She said a truck went through the house and I got here as fast as I could,” he said.

 

Seely said his wife and daughter were on the other side of the house from where the truck collided into the structure.  “They were far away from the truck,” he said.

 

Boyd said the driver jumped out of the garbage truck just prior to the collision.  One member of the two man waste disposal crew was taken by a medical helicopter to an outside hospital.  The other person on the truck was transported to a hospital by ambulance, he said.   Boyd said he did not know their conditions.

 

Seely said his wife was driven by ambulance to a hospital where she received stitches to one of her knees after struck by some sort of debris.  The baby was not hurt, he said.

 

Seely said the amount of damage to the house his family rented for about a year didn’t seem real.  “It’s crazy,” he said.

 

The garbage truck belonged to Lakeshore Recycling and Disposal out of New Buffalo.  The northbound and southbound lanes were blocked to traffic for a while but one of the southbound lanes later reopened.

Crash Closes U.S. 35 Outside La Porte

(La Porte County, IN) - A stretch of U.S. 35 outside La Porte is completely closed because of a traffic accident.

 

According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, all highway lanes are closed from Boyd Boulevard to U.S. 6. The INDOT social media post at 1 p.m. described the crash as “serious.”  Motorists were also advised to avoid the area.

 

We’ll provide more details about the accident once more information becomes available.

Late Start to Slicers Baseball Game Today

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte High School baseball game today will not start on time.

 

Initially, the game at Merrillville was supposed to begin at 4:30 p.m. However, the team won’t be able to leave La Porte until 4 p.m. because that’s when the next school bus is available after taking children home from school.  

 

La Porte High School Athletic Director Steve Santana said shortages of buses and drivers are a problem sometimes here and in other school districts.

 

“It’s pretty common actually over the past several years with schools having transportation issues,” Santana said.

Santana says the game against the Pirates should start sometime after 5 p.m. The Slicers are 19 and 3 on the season.

New Manufacturer Coming to La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - Another manufacturer has plans to open a facility in La Porte. The city council last night approved a tax abatement for Tubekraft USA.

 

“In the City of La Porte, we have made it our priority to attract high-wage, quality job opportunities that bring value to our community. With an average wage of $25 an hour, the positions that Tubekraft is creating in our city will undoubtedly have an impact. We are grateful to them for seeing our vision here in the city and are thrilled to welcome them to La Porte,” said La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody.

Tubekraft USA will invest $2.2 million to build a new 19,500-square-foot manufacturing facility in the East Gate Industrial Park. J. Shoffner General Contractors will construct the building.

 

Officials said the company would spend an additional $1,000,000 to equip this facility. Upon completion of the building and installation of equipment, the company will hire 15 new employees making an average wage of $25.00 per hour plus benefits.

 

Tubekraft USA creates steel tubes for the automotive, engineering, ag machinery, food processing industry, and energy sectors. Their core business is to manufacture DOM tubes (Drawn Over Mandrel), hydraulic tubes, and tubular components for the automotive and aerospace industries.

 

“I am grateful to the City of La Porte for welcoming us and to become a part of the community. Also, I am really thankful to all the associations and organizations who have extended help and incentives to get this project going right from the get-go,” said Anurag Sharma, President of Tubekraft USA.

The La Porte City Council approved a real property tax abatement to assist the company's expansion into the Midwest.

 

Bert Cook, Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, added, “The City of La Porte has continued to invest in our industrial sector. New infrastructure provides new locations for businesses to join our community. We are excited that Tubekraft has chosen to become part of the city and look forward to their continued success."

Seat Belt Crackdown Begins

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police are among the law enforcement agencies cracking down on seat belt violators.

 

According to the sheriff’s office, extra patrol officers will be ensuring drivers and passengers are buckled and children are properly secure. The seatbelt effort occurs three weeks before, during, and after the Memorial Day weekend.

 

Captain Derek Allen says the focus is not on writing tickets but on encouraging people to buckle up to save lives during expected heavy travel.

 

“Seat belts are your best form of protection in a crash and against dangerous drivers.  At the end of the day, we want everyone to reach their destination safely,” Allen said.

Experts say seat belt use has gone up to 93-percent in Indiana since the nationwide campaign started more than 20 years ago. However, authorities say 226 people who were not buckled up lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes statewide in 2020.

Rescued Drowning Victims were Brothers

(Berrien County, Michigan) - Two of the four juveniles pulled from Lake Michigan at Warren Dunes in Berrien County, Michigan, have died.

 

Police said the victims were swimming in the lake when emergency crews were called to the shoreline near Sawyer around 6 p.m. on Sunday. Bystanders helped bring two of the juveniles to shore.

 

The U.S. Coast Guard helped local first responders get the others out of the water. All four were taken to the hospital, authorities said.

 

The two juveniles who died were brothers and attended St. Joseph High School in South Bend. It's believed they were cousins of the juveniles whose conditions were not revealed. 

 

According to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and Saint Joseph High School in South Bend, High School Principal John Kennedy ensured that support and counseling were available to students and staff today. That support will continue to be available in the future. In addition, an all-school Mass was held on Monday morning, and a Divine Mercy Chaplet was held in the afternoon.

 

“We will walk through this grief together and call upon our faith to guide and strengthen us at this time. We ask for your prayers for the family, our students, faculty, and staff,” Kennedy said.

Missing Girl Who Drowned Identified

(Michigan City, IN) - A three-year-old girl pronounced dead after being pulled from a body of water in Michigan City last week has been identified.

 

Ivy Allen was found along the shoreline of Clare Lake in the area of U.S 12 and Karwick Road near Long Beach during a search for a child reported missing on May 12. Attempts were made for several hours to revive the girl by paramedics rushing the girl to the hospital and doctors at the medical facility, police said. The young girl was last seen at her home in the 400 block of Long Beach Lane, not far from the lake.

 

LaPorte County Coroner Lynn Swanson said the cause of death revealed during an autopsy was drowning. She said there were no signs of trauma on the girl’s body.

 

Michigan City Police have not shed light on the findings of the investigation. However, Swanson revealed the girl’s mother explained the last time she saw her daughter was when she was watching television after breakfast.

 

The mother said she left the room to begin cleaning up, and at some point, her daughter apparently went out the back door, according to Swanson. However, the mother explained she didn’t know her daughter had left the residence because the alarm on the door wasn’t working correctly.

 

The search began after police were called about the missing girl at about 11:30 a.m.

Gas Reaches $4.99 a Gallon

(La Porte County, IN) - Gas is nearly $5 a gallon now at many stations in LaPorte County. 

 

Bob Rudd of Michigan City had this reaction when he drove past the Family Express at Johnson Road and U.S 20 and saw the gas price at $4.99 late this morning.

 

“I just couldn’t believe it. I cannot believe it’s that much money here in Michigan City. I know it’s other places, but it’s hit us now. It’s just absolutely crazy. It’s just too much," Rudd said. 

The semi-retired Rudd is a delivery man for an auto parts store. Rudd said being on a fixed income means limiting his driving even further since gas prices started going up rapidly several months ago. 

 

According to GasBuddy.com, gas is also $4.99 at some stations in Valparaiso. Gas was still anywhere from $4.35 to $4.99 a gallon in New Buffalo and below $4.50 in South Bend.

Narcotics Found in Cancer Center Bathroom.

(Michigan City, IN) - A good-sized amount of street drugs were located in the bathroom of a La Porte County medical facility.

 

According to La Porte County Police, officers responded to the Woodland Cancer Center outside Michigan City last week. A security officer spotted a package wrapped in plastic next to a toilet, and there was an overpowering smell of marijuana in the bathroom. The package contained close to two ounces of marijuana and over eight ounces of methamphetamine.

 

According to police, more than a dozen cancer patients were in and out of the facility that day, so it was hard to determine who the drugs belonged. The drugs have since been destroyed.

People Rescued from Lake Michigan

(Berrien County, IN) - Four people were pulled from the water of Lake Michigan last evening while swimming at Warren Dunes State Park in Berrien County, Michigan.

 

According to local police, the call came in just after 6 p.m., eight minutes later. Two people were pulled from the water during a search. 

 

The conditions of the individuals all taken to the hospital are not known publicly at this time. We'll provide more information once it becomes available.

Sneaky Gambler's Luck Runs Out

(Michigan City, IN) - A delinquent dad was picked up in a La Porte County casino and charged with trying to cash in on his winnings illegally.

 

According to court documents, Billy J. Butler of Mishawaka was at Blue Chip Casino on April 20. He won at a table game, but his winnings were intercepted because he allegedly owes $48,000 in child support.

 

When he later won over $1,000 at a slot machine, casino police say he tried paying a woman to collect it for him. The unsuspecting woman was let go, but Butler was later charged with a Level 6 Felony in La Porte Superior Court 4.

 

Things only got worse for Butler. On Tuesday he was arrested at his home in Mishawaka for unlawfully having a firearm and possession of cocaine.

Road Workers Unearth Piece of History

(Lakeville, IN) - An area road construction crew went back in time recently while doing repairs to an old highway.  Some excavation work to replace pipes under old U.S. 31 north of Lakeville recently turned up pieces of the original highway dating back about two hundred years.

 

Cassandra Bajek is this area’s public relations director for the Indiana Department of Transportation. She said remnants of an old plank road were found earlier this week well beneath the modern roadway. “We’re doing a few pipe replacements, so for that they have to dig pretty deep into the ground,” she said. “About four or five feet in, they found an old wooden road, also called a corduroy road, so it’s probably the original roadway placed there.”

 

Corduroy roads were timber trackways made of logs, often from trees cut down to clear the roadway’s path. They were frequently used in low swampy areas.

 

According to Bajek, a good number of the old log planks were carefully extracted. “We were able to pull up probably a couple dozen planks that were in pretty decent condition,” she said. “They’re not particularly wide or long but basically enough for a horse-drawn carriage to go over them.”

 

Bajek said other similar artifacts have been found in the area, but these were better preserved than most. Some of the pieces are being offered to the library and the elementary school in Lakeville for display.

 

The pipe replacement project near Lakeville will be going on all summer. Who knows? Perhaps more interesting discoveries await.

Memorial for Fallen Officers

(Michigan City, IN) - Local law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty were remembered Friday in a special ceremony in Michigan City.

 

The La Porte County Peace Officer’s Memorial Service took place at the Holdcraft Performing Arts Center in the old Elston High School.

 

U.S District Attorney Clifford Johnson was the keynote speaker. This event commemorated the 15 Line of Duty Deaths in LaPorte County over the years.

 

It kicked off Police Week 2022, in which communities across the country honor those officers who made the ultimate sacrifice, as well as the family members, friends and fellow officers they left behind.

 

A similar ceremony was held in St. Joseph County Friday afternoon. A candlelight vigil was held at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Friday night.

 

Escapee Shot in Standoff With Police

(Kentland, IN) - Indiana State Police are investigating a police-involved shooting that happened in northwest Indiana on Wednesday.

 

According to a press release, officers were delivering an inmate from Illinois to Newton County, when the prisoner escaped from the transport vehicle in Kentland. Less than two hours later, officers located the fugitive, who had obtained a firearm, in an apartment building.

 

After opening fire on officers, the inmate was shot by a Jasper County Sheriff’s deputy. The escapee, 36-year-old Jayme Lopez of Gary, was flown by helicopter to a South Bend hospital for treatment.

Nursing Home Chain Downsizing

(Warsaw, IN) - A nursing home operator familiar to area families is downsizing.

 

Miller’s Merry Manor will be transferring ownership of eight of its facilities statewide. This will not affect the facilities in La Porte, New Carlisle, or Walkerton.

 

Miller’s Health Systems, Inc. says the change has to do with changes in the operating leases at those eight locations.

 

Miller’s runs about 30 senior care facilities throughout Indiana. Nearly 700 workers stand to be affected by the downsizing. However, most, if not all of them, are expected to keep their jobs under new management.

Flags Lowered for COVID Deaths

(Indianapolis, IN) - Flags are flying at half-staff this weekend. Not for one person in particular, but for a million.

 

Governor Eric Holcomb has ordered the observance in memory of the one million American lives that have been lost to COVID-19.

 

The order coincides with a similar federal directive to fly flags at half-mast until sunset Monday.

Charges in Bank Account Fraud Attempt

(La Porte, IN) - Charges have been filed against a woman suspected of identity theft related to her activities at banks in the area.  Danielle Schoonmaker, 39, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Fraud and Identity Deception.

 

According to court documents, she stole the identities of other people to try and withdraw money from their bank accounts.

 

On May 4, she was caught attempting to withdraw $4,000 from an account belonging to someone else at a Horizon Bank branch in Michigan City, police said.  Police said a suspicious clerk notified authorities who greeted Schoonmaker while she was walking out of the branch empty handed.

 

According to court documents, she was being transported to the La Porte County Jail when she began slurring her words and told the officer she had taken a large amount of heroin earlier in the day.  She was taken to a hospital.  Then after given medical clearance several hours later, she was locked up at the jail.  Her booking information does not contain a listed address but she told the officer she was from New York City.

 

Evidence in the case indicates she was suspected of similar activity at Horizon Bank branches in Lake County and southwest Michigan.

PNW Winners of Competition Announced

(Hammond, IN) - Purdue University Northwest’s College of Business and College of Technology hosted 12 finalists on April 30 during the 11th annual PNW Big Sell pitch competition.  The top three winners in the competition  were announced.

 

Richard Christakes was awarded first place and $10,000 for his business, Ship My Plants, which matches plant enthusiasts with the closest possible sellers based on geolocation. The business model is intended to minimize stress on plants, save shipping time and costs and reduce carbon emissions.

 

Pair Drew Jarvis and Cindy Belardo took home second place and $3,000 for their product, Sunny Cup, a reusable feminine hygiene product that is lower in cost, better for the environment and free from harmful chemicals and dyes, when compared to similar feminine hygiene products on the market.

 

Dan Durochik received third place and $1,000 for Alert Lift, an automatic garage door opener with an integrated carbon monoxide detector. The device would detect high levels of carbon monoxide and trigger a garage to open and ventilate. Durochik is a 1986 PNW alumnus who earned a bachelor’s degree in Managerial Studies.

 

“Year after year the PNW Big Sell showcases the innovation and entrepreneurship in Northwest Indiana,” said Kristin Burton, assistant professor of Entrepreneurship.

 

“Each year I am excited to see what business ideas and concepts will be presented.  We are so grateful to NIPSCO for sponsoring this event and their commitment to helping small businesses.  I encourage all aspiring entrepreneurs to consider presenting their business ideas at the PNW Big Sell next year,” she said. 

 

Burton and Mont Handley, Entrepreneur in Residence and associate director of the Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center (CMEC), jointly directed the event.

 

The 12 finalists delivered six-minute pitches to a three-member panel of judges. The PNW Big Sell final pitch competition can be viewed on-demand at jedtv.com.

 

PNW has campuses in Hammond and near Westville. 

Alleged Crossbow Shoplifter Charged

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man is looking at potential time in prison for going big in his alleged shoplifting.  27 year old Sky Fall is charged in La Porte Circuit Court.

 

According to court documents, he was inside Rural King in La Porte last month and walked out without paying for three crossbows.  Police say he was captured by store surveillance cameras and recognized from previous encounters with law enforcement.  The crossbows were valued at more than $2,000.

 

He could face an up to 30 month sentence on a Level 6 Felony charge of Theft.

Search Still On for Convicted Molester

(La Porte, IN) - Authorities are still looking for a man convicted by a jury of child molesting in La Porte Circuit Court this week.  50 year old David Powers, II, did not show up for his trial but the trial was held anyway.  He was convicted on four courts of child molesting.

 

Authorities say Powers did show up for a court hearing a week before the trial but has not been seen or heard from since.  According to courtroom officials, he was living in the Lake Station/Portage area just prior to the start of his trial.

 

Police, armed with an arrest warrant issued by Judge Tom Alevizos, are actively looking for leads on his whereabouts.

 

According to the evidence, Powers is a body builder who met a woman on an internet dating site.  While living her at a home outside La Porte, authorities said he molested her 12 year old daughter on more than one occasion.  He’s facing an up to 40 year sentence on each of the two most serious counts.

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