Chesterton Tribune


Union Township man gets four years after pleading guilty to fatal OWI

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A Union Township man has been sentenced to four years in the Indiana Department of Correction (DOC) after pleading guilty to driving under the influence of marijuana and striking and killing a jogger last year.

Joseph R. Ruwaldt, 20, with a listed address of 322W 100N, was sentenced on Nov. 30.

Ruwaldt pleaded guilty to OWI-causing death with a controlled substance or its metabolite in the system, a Class C felony punishable by a term of two to eight years.

Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa sentenced Ruwaldt to four years, none of the term suspended. In addition, Alexa suspended Ruwaldt’s driver’s license for a period of three years, retroactive to July 11, 2011.

Alexa did give Ruwaldt credit for time served while awaiting disposition, 243 actual days, and recommended that Ruwaldt participate in the Westville Therapeutic Community while in DOC.

All other lesser and included charges against Ruwaldt were dismissed.

According to the Porter County Sheriff’s Police, at 7:38 a.m. July 31, 2011, Ruwaldt was eastbound on C.R. 100N when he left the roadway in the area of C.R. 350W and struck Garry Bradley, who was running eastbound on the north edge of the road.

Bradley—who police said was “thrown up onto the hood” of Ruwaldt’s truck, “carried for a distance, and then fell to the ground”—was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said that Ruwaldt, who stated that he’d “dozed off” behind the wheel, was traveling at approximately 52 miles per hour, in a zone posted at 35 mph, when he hit Bradley.

Ruwaldt subsequently tested positive for marijuana in his blood, at 8.82 ng/ml, police said.

In February, Alexa ordered Ruwaldt—who was out on bond—returned to Porter County Jail after the Porter County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said that he had flunked a drug test. At that hearing Ruwaldt advised that he thought he’d been smoking a legal synthetic marijuana but a drug test conducted early in January found the presence in his system of an illegal synthetic, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said at the time.


Posted 12/6/2012