Trooper almost struck by wrong-way driver

Shalynn Johnson

PORTER CO., Ind. (ADAMS) – Indiana State Police say a trooper escaped what could have been a serious situation last week.

On Thursday, December 5, 2019, at approximately 1:10 a.m., Sgt. Dan Avitia was on patrol on I-80 (Indiana Toll Road) in Porter County.

As Sgt. Avitia drove westbound near the 22.3 mile-marker, he observed headlights approaching him. He initially thought the headlights were from the eastbound traffic before realizing that the headlights were headed directly towards him. There were several vehicles behind him.

For their safety, Sgt. Avitia immediately activated his emergency lighting as well as his siren and placed his vehicle between the lanes and directly in the path of the wrong-way driver in an attempt to protect the other vehicles behind him.

At the very last second prior to impact, the wrong-way driver swerved to avoid a collision and drove to the outer shoulder. The suspect vehicle then stopped, backed up, and then crossed the median and proceeded to go westbound in the eastbound lanes. Sgt. Avitia lost sight of the vehicle as the vehicle fled. The vehicle was located against a fence near the Portage Toll Barrier. Both doors of the vehicle were left open.

The Portage Police Department also responded to the scene to assist in locating the occupants. A K-9 track was started and two subjects were located hiding in a wooded area a short distance away from where the vehicle was located.

Neither subject admitted to being the driver of the vehicle. Further investigation led officers to believe that they were in fact occupants of the vehicle that had fled from Sgt. Avitia. After consulting with the Porter County Prosecutor’s Office, both subjects were taken into custody.

Charged with Resisting Law Enforcement (Class A Misd.) are Shalynn M. Johnson, 18, from Marion, IN and Breonna L. Elkins, 30, of Hartford City, IN. Both suspects were transported to the Porter County Jail. Ms. Elkins also has a warrant for probation violation and is being held for Blackford County.