Chesterton Tribune



Two charged in fatal Portage hit and run

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Two Portage 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.

Charged with 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.

As the 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 force trauma.

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.

Portage PD 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.

Portage PD 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.

Leaving the 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.


Posted 10/25/2017




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