A Portage man has been charged with operating while intoxicated-causing death
and reckless homicide in connection with an accident in August on U.S.
Highway 20 in Porter which claimed the life of a Michigan City man, the
Porter County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said.
On Friday Brian Alan Otto, 24, of 2355 Hickory St., was charged with a total
of four felonies: two of OWI-causing death, a Class C felony punishable by a
term of two to eight years in prison; reckless homicide, also a Class C
felony; and OWI-causing serious bodily injury, a Class D felony punishable by
a term of six months to three years.
In addition Otto was charged with four misdemeanors: three more counts of OWI,
one of them a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a term of up to a year and
two of them a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a term of up to two months;
and criminal recklessness with a motor vehicle, also a Class A misdemeanor.
According to Porter Police, at approximately 6:52 p.m. on Aug. 19 Otto was
westbound on U.S. 20 in a Ford pickup truck when he attempted to turn left
onto southbound Wagner Road and struck the driver’s side door of a Honda
passenger car driven by Lance Stroobandt, 37, of Michigan City.
Stroobandt was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said that he sustained
contusions to both lungs, severe trauma to his heart, laceration of the
liver, and a broken neck. Cause of death: multiple blunt force trauma.
Otto subsequently advised police that he had been drinking with friends at
the beach and was headed for The Village in Porter for something to eat at
the time of the crash, Officer Tawni Komisarcik stated in her probable cause
affidavit. Otto further advised police that, as he approached Wagner Road, a
vehicle eastbound in the inside lane was slowing to turn left onto northbound
Wagner Road and that he believed he could turn in front of it. But he did not
see Stroobandt eastbound in the outside lane of U.S. 20, Komisarcik stated.
One full and one empty 16-ounce beer bottle were recovered from the back seat
of Otto’s truck, Komisarcik stated. On an initial blood test conducted at
9:16 p.m. Otto registered a blood alcohol content of .12 percent, and then on
a second test conducted at 9:40 p.m. he registered a B.A.C. of .09 percent,
Motorists in Indiana are considered legally intoxicated when they score a
B.A.C. of .08 percent or higher.