A Porter County
Sheriff’s Police officer may have prevented dozens of casualties on Saturday
when--on foot, running alongside an accelerating Jeep with an intoxicated
minor behind the wheel--he managed to keep the driver from crashing into a
crowd of people waiting for the Valplayso fireworks display to begin, the
Czupryn was injured in the process, after falling off the Jeep.
The driver was
identified as Spencer T. Sovich, 20, of 210 Mayfield Ave., Valparaiso. He
has been charged with operating while intoxicated, criminal recklessness,
resisting law enforcement, and minor consumption of alcohol.
Czupryn’s report of the incident, at 9:28 p.m. he was working security for
the Valparaiso Parks Department at Valplayso--wearing his alternate PCSP
motorcycle uniform--when he observed a gray Jeep Cherokee eastbound on
Glendale Blvd. take a jog to the south and drive over “a large curb and into
a construction site at the playground.”
Czupryn gave chase
on foot as the Jeep resumed an easterly heading through a gravel area, he
stated in his report. “I ran up to the vehicle and repeatedly yelled ‘Stop!
Police! The vehicle continued driving eastbound through the park and was
accelerating. I began banging on the driver’s side of the vehicle with my
fist and flashlight while screaming orders to ‘Stop!’ and to ‘Put the car in
park!’ The vehicle continued to accelerate as I sprinted alongside.”
By this time the
driver was traveling along a northeast heading, “toward a large group of
over 100 spectators camped on the tree-lawn east of the playground between
the sidewalk and Glendale Blvd.,” Czupryn stated. “The driver’s side window
was open and I was directly next to the driver while I was running next to
his speeding vehicle. He continued to ignore my orders to stop. I opened the
door to the vehicle and the driver pushed me back. Just before the vehicle
got to the crowd, which was beginning to scatter, I reached in and pulled
the steering wheel to the right and aimed the vehicle down the sidewalk
“The majority of
people fled north into the street as I attempted to keep the vehicle from
going left,” Czupryn continued his report. “We were driving down the
sidewalk between the tree-lawn and a construction fence to the south of the
sidewalk. I eventually couldn’t hold on any longer and fell from the
Czupryn watched as
the Jeep turned left onto southbound Monticello Park Drive and was lost to
sight. Because the Jeep’s license plate light wasn’t working, Czupryn
stated, he was unable to see the license number.
ran to his motorcycle and radioed for assistance, then went searching for
the Jeep on Evans Ave., eastbound for a distance, then westbound. Czupryn
was approaching Roosevelt Road when he spotted a Jeep with a non-functioning
license plate light, pulled even with driver, recognized both him and his
front-seat passenger, and ordered him to stop. The driver did not, Czupryn
said, so he pulled in behind the Jeep and followed it to the intersection of
Roosevelt Road, where a red light boxed it in.
his motorcycle and stated that he was in the process of opening the
passenger’s side door when the light turned green and the Jeep “began to
roll forward” with the rest of the westbound traffic. “I lunged into the
vehicle across the passenger and shut the vehicle off,” “put the car in
park, and ordered the driver to put his hands on the steering wheel.”
The driver refused,
prompting Czupryn to draw his service weapon and order the driver once again
to put his hands on the wheel, he stated.
By that time,
however, Valparaiso Police officers had arrived at the scene and succeeded
in “forcibly” removing the driver, Czupryn stated.
identified as Sovich, showed signs of intoxication, Czupryn stated. “I asked
Spencer if he had anything to drink prior to our encounter and he advised
that he had ‘Quite a bit.’ I asked him exactly how much he had to drink
prior to driving and he replied ‘A lot.’ I asked him to be specific and he
responded by stating that he was ‘over the limit.’ I asked him to quantify
and qualify his alcohol consumption by estimating how many and exactly what
he had consumed prior to driving and he replied ‘A lot.’”
several field sobriety tests and registered a blood alcohol content of .20
percent on a blood test administered at Porter Regional Hospital, Czupryn
Alexandra K. Mendoza, 18, of 52 Carmen Drive in Valparaiso, was charged with
minor consumption of alcohol after she registered a B.A.C. of .22 percent on
a portable breath test, Czupryn stated.
Both Sovich and
Mendoza were transported to Porter County Jail.
hand, injured in the fall from the Jeep, subsequently began to swell
painfully from a contusion and was braced at the ER, he stated.