LAPORTE COUNTY | One man was killed and another man survived a motor vehicle crash on U.S. 35 early Thursday outside LaPorte.
Jacob Anderson, 26, of LaPorte died in the accident. He was a passenger in an older model Buick operated by Thomas Drnek II, 29, also of LaPorte, according to LaPorte County police.
Police said the southbound car left the west side of the highway about 2:30 a.m. on a curvy and hilly stretch of U.S. 35 near Schultz Road before crashing into a large grove of trees.
LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan said he believes speed was a factor judging by the amount of damage.
"I say that because of the total destruction of the car," said Sullivan.
"It was pretty well destroyed," said LaPorte County Sheriff Mike Mollenhauer.
Sullivan said Anderson died from blunt force trauma.
Drnek was taken to the IU Health LaPorte Hospital with a head injury not believed life threatening, authorities said.
LaPorte County police Chief of Detectives John Boyd said investigators were still waiting for the results a blood test to determine if Drnek was under the influence.
He did say criminal charges are anticipated.
"There's a possibility alcohol was involved," said Boyd.
The highway was blocked to traffic from U.S. 20 to Johnson Road for about five hours to allow for clean up of the wreckage and investigation of the accident scene.
Late Thursday afternoon, Drnek faced several criminal charges, the most serious offense being Class B felony operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated causing death.
Drnek's alleged blood alcohol content was not revealed but LaPorte Circuit Court Judge Tom Alevizos ruled there was sufficient evidence for him to face the charge, which carries a maximum potential 20 year sentence.
Arrangements were pending with the Lakeview Funeral Home & Crematory in LaPorte.