Driver with La Porte County warrants dies after chase, crash

LAKE COUNTY, Ind. – One person wanted for felony warrants out of La Porte County has died after a police chase and crash in Porter County, the Indiana State Police reported.

At 8:57 a.m. Wednesday morning, a trooper stopped a silver 2012 Ford Focus on I-94 eastbound at the 40 mile-marker.

The vehicle was stopped for several alleged traffic offenses including following too closely and speeding in a construction zone with workers present, police said.

During the traffic stop, the trooper learned that the driver, identified as 22-year-old Vernell F. Muhammad of Chicago, had active warrants through La Porte County for aggravated assault – family strongarm, reports said.

The warrant included alleged offenses for felony domestic battery and felony strangulation, police reported.

As the trooper tried to place Muhammad into custody, Muhammad refused to exit the vehicle and drove away, police said.

Muhammad exited I-94 at the 40 mile-marker before getting back onto I-94 and heading westbound, reports said.

During the chase, Muhammad was able to avoid stop sticks officers had placed to try to stop the vehicle, police said.

The vehicle continued to the 18.5 mile-marker where it rear-ended a semi that was also traveling westbound, police said.

Muhammad was ejected from the Focus as a result of the crash.

Muhammad sustained severe injuries and was flown to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The driver of the semi was not injured in the crash.

The westbound lanes of I-94 were closed for about two hours for crash reconstruction.

The Indiana State Police was assisted by the Burns Harbor Police Department, Portage Police Department, Lake County Aviation Section, Portage Fire Department, Indiana Department of Transportation, and WAFFCO Towing.

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