Carjacking Juvenile Suspects Airlifted After Crash

On Wednesday March 27, 2024, at approximately 11:00 AM, an officer with the Portage Police Department was on routine patrol in the city’s northwest side when he received notification from the Flock Safety license plate reader system that a stolen black 2020 Hyundai Elantra bearing Illinois license plates was in the area, according to Portage Police.

The officer was able to locate the vehicle on County Line Road near Oak Avenue. When the officer attempted to make a traffic stop, the driver of the stolen vehicle initiated a pursuit. The pursuit turned westbound onto US Highway 12 and continued until reaching the intersection of US Highway 20 (Melton Road). At this point, the suspect vehicle began traveling back eastbound along Highway 20.

Responding Portage Police Officers set up Stop-Sticks just East of State Road 249 in an attempt to bring the pursuit to a conclusion but as the suspect vehicle neared the intersection it suddenly crossed into oncoming traffic and struck the midsection of a cement truck that had stopped on the north shoulder facing West. The driver of the cement truck, a 43-year-old male, indicated that he observed the approaching lights of the police vehicle and had pulled to the shoulder and come to a complete stop before the collision. The cement truck driver reported minor bruising and did not require EMS transport for his injury.

Officers discovered that the stolen Hyundai was occupied two times, and each occupant was taken into custody. At this time neither suspect has been positively identified but it is believed they are both juveniles. Each suspect sustained life-threatening injuries during the collision and were transported to separate area trauma centers via helicopter. One suspect was flown directly from the scene and the other a short time later from a local hospital.

Upon being removed from the vehicle, each suspect was found to have a loaded semi-automatic pistol in their waistband and an amount of marijuana was recovered from inside the passenger compartment. The Hyundai had been reported stolen through the Chicago Police Department on March 26th and evidence from a separate carjacking occurring later that same day in Chicago was also recovered from inside the vehicle.

The driver faces possible charges of Fleeing Law Enforcement in a Motor Vehicle, Unlawful Carrying of a Handgun, Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, Reckless Driving, and Possession of Marijuana. The passenger faces possible charges of Unlawful Carrying of a Handgun, Unlawful Entry of a Motor Vehicle, and Possession of Marijuana.

Assisting with this incident was the Gary Police Department, Indiana State Police, Burns Harbor Police Department, Portage Fire Department, Lutheran Air, and Precision Towing.

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