Warrant sought after U.S. 12 crash

January 6, 2019

MICHIGAN CITY – Police are asking for charges to be filed against a Michigan man who they claim crashed his pickup into a utility pole – snapping it in half – then walked away, leaving his badly injured brother in the vehicle.

The crash happened about 11 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, according to Michigan City Police, who arrived to find the Michigan City Fire Department and La Porte County Emergency Medical Services treating a man in the passenger seat of the truck.

The pickup was in an open grassy field on U.S. 12, just west of Cook Street, and “appeared to have struck a utility pole and snapped it into two pieces,” the police report said.

Part of the pole was in the ground, but leaning, while the other part was dangling from wires which were hanging low to the ground. U.S. 12 between Cook Street and 2nd Street was closed to vehicle and pedestrian travel. The Michigan City Street Department barricaded the road to stop traffic until the pole and wires were repaired.

The vehicle was registered to a South Haven, Michigan, woman and inside was a clear plastic bag containing a green leafy substance, which tested positive as marijuana, the report said. There were also two empty beer cans and a smoking pipe with burnt marijuana in the bowl, the report said.

A witness told police she was driving on U.S. 12 when the she saw the truck heading westbound at a high rate of speed, the report said. It left the road, hit the pole and spun around several times in the grassy field, she told police. Police said video surveillance footage from the roof of the Blue Chip Casino parking garage showed the accident happened that way as well.

The driver then got out and went to hide by some trees, then walked away along the sidewalk on U.S. 12, the woman told police. She also said another person stopped to help the occupants in the vehicle and told her to call 911.

The passenger, a Dowagiac, Michigan, man said he did not remember getting into the vehicle and last remembered being home, drinking beer and smoking marijuana with his brother, the report said. He said if he was in a vehicle, then his brother must have been driving, though he does not have a license. He said the pipe and marijuana belonged to his brother, the report said.

The man required several staples for a large laceration on his head, and also told police said he was suffering severe back pain.

Police called the man’s mother to ask about the brother, and was told he was OK and had told his girlfriend about the accident, the report said.

However, the girlfriend had filed a report claiming the vehicle had been stolen, according to South Haven (Michigan) Police, though MC Police told that department the report was false because the woman knew her boyfriend had been in a crash, the report said.

Police then called the girlfriend, who said she knew of the crash, but later changed her story, the report said. When told she could be charged for filing a false report, she said she was calling South Haven Police to say the truck had been found.

She said her boyfriend was OK after the crash, but was scared because he didn’t have a driver’s license, police said. A records check showed the man, a 51-year-old South Haven resident, had no valid license, police said.

Four days later, on Jan. 3, the driver returned a call to police, saying he was not involved in the accident, was with his kids on that day and had witnesses, the report said. However, he refused to come in for an interview, saying he needed to speak with an attorney.

Police have asked the La Porte County Prosecutor’s Office for a warrant charging misdemeanor counts of failure to stop after an accident and possession of marijuana. As of Sunday, no warrants had been filed.

—From staff reports

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