Chesterton Tribune



Valpo man charged after wild hit-and-run drive on 15th Street

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A Valparaiso resident was taken into custody on Thursday after Chesterton Police said that he struck a mailbox and a utility pole while weaving wildly on South 15th Street.

Kendall Austin Owens, 21, of 401 Courtney St., Apt. B, was arrested on charges of operating while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident, and resisting law enforcement.

According to police, at 5:44 p.m. Owens--with passenger Melissa A. Gillette, 23, of 1638 W. Morgan Ave. in Chesterton--was southbound in the 300 block of South 15th Street when he began “criss-crossing” the roadway, just missing a mailbox on the west side of the street, then going left of the center line and hitting one on the east side. Owens re-gained the southbound lane, only to drive into a yard, went left of center again and struck a utility pole at the southeast corner of South 15th Street and Lincoln Ave., and came to rest in a bush in the front yard of a residence.

One witness estimated Owens’ speed at “upwards of 70-80” miles per hour. Another witness advised that, at the time, there were as many as 15 children out and about on South 15th Street.

After coming to rest, Owens fled the scene and ran into a resident’s backyard, where three witnesses confronted and held him on the ground pending the arrival of officers, police said.

Owens, however, struggled with officers, and “refused to remove his right arm under his body” in order to be handcuffed, police said. He ceased struggling when an officer pressed “on a pressure point near the right elbow” and was subsequently secured, police said.

Owens showed signs of intoxication, had two bottles of vodka in his backpack when taken into custody, failed a field sobriety test, and repeatedly admitted being drunk, police said. But he denied being the driver.

Owens refused to submit to a chemical test and a warrant for a blood draw was obtained and executed at the Franciscan Alliance ER department on Indian Boundary Road, police said.

Owens was transported to Porter County Jail.

His passenger, meanwhile, Gillette, was treated for injuries at the ER department, then taken into custody on an active warrant issued through Porter County and charging her with failure to appear, police said.

Gillette did advise that Owens “may have been driving in that manner purposefully due to being denied the possibility of a romantic relationship with her,” police said.


Posted 8/9/2013