residents have been charged in connection with the fatal hit-and-run on U.S.
Highway 20 on Saturday, following a traffic stop by a Porter Police officer
on Sunday, Portage Police said.
leaving the scene of an accident-causing death is Gustavo Mendoza, 59, of
5524 Fitz Ave. Charged with obstruction of justice is Nila M. Johnson, 52,
of 6888 U.S. 20.
Chesterton Tribune reported on Monday, at 9:58 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21,
Brian N. Bradford, 46, of Minford, Ohio, was walking eastbound on the south
shoulder of U.S. 20 when, in the 2100 block, he was struck from behind by an
eastbound vehicle and thrown into the middle of the road. The Porter County
Coroner’s Office pronounced Bradford dead at the scene of massive blunt
The suspect vehicle
fled the scene but witnesses described it as a dark gray Dodge Ram pickup
truck with blue tinted driving lights mounted low on the front end and amber
colored marker lights on the roof. The vehicle also had a loud defective
exhaust system, witnesses advised.
investigators duly distributed that information to neighboring police
agencies and at 4 p.m. Sunday--18 hours after the crash--a Porter Police
officer observed a vehicle resembling the suspect vehicle traveling on U.S.
20 and performed a traffic stop on its driver, Nila Johnson, in the area of
Waverly Road, police said.
detectives responding to the scene subsequently determined that “this was
the involved vehicle,” police said, and when interviewed Johnson “gave
statements identifying the driver (at the time of the accident) and
implicating herself in a plot to repair the vehicle to help the suspect
avoid apprehension,” police said.
The Portage PD
later made contact with Gustavo Mendoza, the vehicle’s owner, “who gave a
statement but denied being the involved driver,” police said.
scene-causing death is a Level 5 felony punishable by a term of one to six
years; obstruction of justice, a Level 6 felony punishable by a term of six
months to 30 months.