A Tinley Park, Ill., man has pleaded guilty to an OWI charge in connection
with a crash which killed another motorist on I-94 in Porter County last
Michael Michalski, 54, pleaded guilty to operating while intoxicated with a
blood alcohol content higher than .08 percent and causing death, a Class C
felony punishable by a term of two to eight years, Deputy Prosecuting
Attorney Andrew Bennett told the Chesterton Tribune today.
Under the plead-and-argue agreement, Bennett said, Michalskiís sentence will
be capped at four years with a minimum of two years. Sentencing is scheduled
for Sept. 29 before Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper.
Bennett noted that Michalski pleaded guilty to the severest of the seven
charges filed against him--totaling three felonies and four
misdemeanors--and that in such a case he may not also be prosecuted on the
lesser and included charges.
Bennett also noted that the presumptive sentence for a Class C felony is
typically four years, with an addition of years when there are aggravating
factors or a shaving of years when there are mitigating ones. Bennett said
that he was unaware of any aggravating factors in Michalskiís case.
In any event, Michalski will be eligible for release after serving half of
According to the Indiana State Police, at 12:50 a.m. on Oct. 11, traffic had
slowed for an earlier crash in the eastbound lanes of I-94 at the 28.5 mile
marker, just east of the scales, when Michalski, driving a 2003 Ford
Expedition, rear ended Benjamin Larson, 30, of Platteville, Wis. The impact
forced Larsonís 2000 Dodge Intrepid into the back of a 2005 Volvo
semi-tractor trailer, police said.
Larson was pronounced dead at the scene.
Michalski subsequently advised police that he had left a golf outing in
Olympia Fields, Ill., and was on his way to Michigan at the time of the
crash, Trooper Glen Fifield stated in his probable cause affidavit. Fifield
further stated that Michalski showed signs of intoxication, that he passed
two but failed several other field sobriety tests, and that he then refused
to submit to a portable breath test. A warrant was obtained for a blood draw
and two samples were taken.
Neither Michalski nor the driver of the semi was injured in the crash,