Driver airlifted after Borman crash left lanes closed for hours

2012-06-20T11:49:00Z 2012-06-21T11:40:05Z Driver airlifted after Borman crash left lanes closed for hoursBy Lauri Harvey Keagle lauri.keagle@nwi.com, (219) 852-4311 nwitimes.com

A Wisconsin truck driver remained hospitalized Wednesday night after a crash involving a possible drunken driver on the Borman Expressway.

Dennis C. Schulze, 50, of Beloit, Wis., was airlifted to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn with life-threatening injuries following the crash, which shut down the Borman for nearly eight hours.

An off-duty Calumet City officer was driving east on the Borman in her unmarked car behind a possibly impaired driver just before 3 a.m. Wednesday, according to Indiana State Police. She witnessed the car, driven by Ronald E. Blankenship III, 21, of Gary, nearly hit two semis and the concrete barrier wall, police said.

The officer called 911 for help but was instructed by a dispatcher that Indiana officers were tied up on calls and for the Calumet City officer to conduct a traffic stop if she was able to, Calumet City Assistant Police Chief Dan Zorzi said.

"Our officer felt if she did not take action that (the driver) was going to harm somebody," he said.

The officer turned on her emergency lights and stopped the vehicle on the shoulder just east of Cline Avenue. Indiana State Police said the officer stopped behind the vehicle but her vehicle was partially in the right lane.

Zorzi said this was done for officer safety and is routine depending on the traffic stop.

A 2003 Mack semi hauling trash was eastbound in the right lane when the driver, Michael O. Amede, 53, of Country Club Hills, Ill., reportedly swerved to avoid hitting the officer's car and changed lanes.

The Mack trash hauler then was hit from behind by a 2005 Volvo semi driven by Schulze. A University of Chicago Aeromedical Network air ambulance arrived on the scene to assist Schulze, who was pinned inside the semi until about 7 a.m. NBC 5 Chicago reported independent sources said emergency crews had to amputate one of Schulze's legs from the calf down to extricate him from the cab of his truck.

Blankenship was transported to the Lake County Jail and charged with operating while intoxicated refusal.

All lanes of the Borman Expressway reopened about 11:15 a.m.

Neither of the semis lost their loads, but police said there was extensive debris on the expressway as a result of the crash, which forced the hours-long closure.

Indiana State Police officers were assisted at the scene by the Indiana Department of Transportation, Prompt Ambulance, the Gary Fire Department, Lake County Sheriff's Department and the Hammond Police Department.

Times staff writer Lindsay Machak contributed to this report.

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