A Hammond man who admitted running into and killing a Valparaiso road worker
on I-80 last year was sentenced to six years in the Department of
Correction, the Lake County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said.
Robert Anthony Shannon, 37, was sentenced on Monday to seven years in the
DOC, one of them suspended and to be served on formal probation.
Shannon was charged in March 2010 with seven counts in connection with the
death of Valparaiso resident Christopher Jenkins, 45, who was cold-patching
potholes on I-80 for Walsh Construction when he was struck by a Mercury
Cougar traveling at a high rate of speed through the work zone. The driver
of the Cougar, later identified as Shannon, then fled the scene.
Shannon had been charged with five felonies, the most serious a Class B
felony—failure to stop at an accident causing serious bodily injury to
another person while operating while intoxicated—punishable by a term of six
to 20 years. He had also been charged with two misdemeanors.
But under an agreement with the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Shannon
pleaded guilty to a Class C felony—reckless operation of a vehicle in a
highway work zone-causing death—punishable by a term of two to eight years.
In exchange for Shannon’s plea the other counts were dismissed.
That agreement did not stipulate a sentence other than the maximum for a
Class C felony: eight years.
According to the probable cause affidavit filed by Det. Dave Andrews of the
Indiana State Police, at 1:25 a.m. on March 16, 2010, Jenkins was
cold-patching potholes in the left lane of westbound I-80, at the 12.6 mile
marker near Lake Station, when Shannon struck him. The impact threw Jenkins
through the car’s windshield and into the front seat. He was pronounced dead
at the scene.
The work zone “included barrels east of the scene which were spread out in a
fashion as to slowly reduce the speed of westbound traffic and to direct
lane usage to the far right lane,” Andrews stated in his affidavit.
One of Jenkins’ co-workers chased after the Cougar and on reaching the
driver’s door heard the driver to say, “in a slurred speech, ‘My life is
over,’” Andrews stated. The driver “then grabbed a small black bag and
exited the vehicle,” fleeing on foot.
Investigators found one opened beer and one unopened beer in the vehicle,
Andrews stated, and were able to determine that the car was registered to
Shannon was apprehended 21 hours after the crash in an alley in Lake Station
when he tried to call a friend from a pay phone.