Saturday morning at approximately 2:00 AM, Indiana State Troopers were investigating a suspicious incident on I-80/94 EB near the 0.7 mile-marker near Calumet Ave, according to Sgt. Glen Fifield.
While troopers and the Hammond Fire Department were on scene to assist, a crash occurred separate from the original dispatch, Fifield said.
Preliminary investigation by Trooper Luckey revealed that a stolen white 2016 Dodge Charger was traveling east bound at an extremely high speed when it crashed into a Hammond Fire Engine occupied by three firefighters and a black 2009 Subaru. The Subaru then spun out of control striking a black 2012 Dodge Journey that was parked on the right shoulder. This collision pushed the Journey into Trooper William Carlson who was standing between the Journey and the concrete barrier wall, pinning him against the wall. Trooper Carlson was able to free himself from the crash and requested medical assistance. He was transported to Munster Community Hospital for treatment and later released.
The driver of the Dodge Charger that caused the crash attempted to flee the scene on foot and abandon his seriously injured passenger. As the driver ran away, Trooper Ryan Parent also pursued the suspect on foot. With the assistance of two legally armed Good Samaritans who were working in the area, they were able to chase down the suspect. The suspect was running from the crash scene and the Good Samaritans placed their vehicle in front of the fleeing suspect. One of the Good Samaritans, who was armed with a handgun, exited the truck and drew his weapon and ordered the suspect to stop. The suspect complied and was able to be taken into custody by Trooper Parent.
The suspect was transported to Munster Community Hospital for treatment of minor injuries and released. The suspect, Bryan K. Smith, 23, from North Carolina, is currently being held at the Lake County Jail pending formal charges being approved and filed by the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office. The passenger in the Dodge Charger, a 23-year-old female from Chicago Heights, IL, sustained serious injuries and was flown to Christ Advocate Hospital for treatment. Her current condition is not known. None of the other drivers or any other officers or firefighters sustained any injuries. A Glock .45 handgun was recovered from inside the stolen Dodge Charger, Fifield stated.
The eastbound lanes of I-80/94 were closed/restricted for several hours for crash investigation and scene cleanup. Assisting at the scene were the following: Illinois State Police, Hammond Fire Department, Hammond Police Department, Bert’s Towing, Hoosier Helpers, and the Indiana State Police Crash Reconstruction Unit.