County deputy finds himself part of the crash

Sheriff’s office information and photo

A La Porte County deputy’s squad car was hit with not a rock, not a box, but a farm irrigation system tower Jan. 7, 2020, on Ind. 2 at CR-600E.

Deputy Corey Chavez was traveling east on the highway when an eastbound semi almost collided with his car. The semi then collided with a tractor pulling the irrigation tower. The impact of the crash forced the irrigation tower into Chavez’s squad car. He managed to avoid injury.

The 1998 semi was being driven by Enrique Rodriguez, 26, of Chicago. Rodriguez told police he was unable to stop. The irrigation tower was being towed by a 2011 Case-International tractor being driven by Jeffery Baltes, 40, of Rolling Prairie.

Rodriguez received citations of failure to yield right-of-way to an emergency vehicle, unsafe lane movement, and improper lane usage on a three- or more-lane roadway. Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Deputy Ryan Elcock, who assisted at the scene, quickly determined the semi was overweight. The semi was towed to a facility in La Porte. Indiana State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Trooper Justin Heflin inspected the semi. Heflin and Elcock determined the semi rig was approximately 20,000 pounds over the permitted weight of 134,000 pounds. Heflin issued Rodriguez a citation for his rig being overweight, revoked his oversize/overweight permit, and placed the rig out of service for insufficient brakes.

La Porte County Sheriff’s Captain Derek Allen said, “Just prior to the crash, Deputy Chavez saw what was about to occur and was able to brace himself for the impact. Thankfully and most importantly, he was not injured during this incident. This crash is just one example of the many dangers and hazards that our deputies encounter each and every day.”

The Indiana Department of Transportation, Ace Towing (La Porte) and Action Towing assisted deputies at the scene.

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