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The Times

A man was badly injured when his SUV hit a tree that snapped in half along a dangerous stretch of U.S. 20 north of LaPorte, police said.

The man, 42, of Michigan City, was airlifted to Memorial Hospital in South Bend following the crash, which happened about 10 p.m. Tuesday.

LaPorte County Emergency Medical Service spokesman Buddy Kasinger listed his condition as serious.

According to LaPorte County Police, the man was heading east and left the right side of the four-lane highway before hitting a tree branch, then a tree, uprooting it and snapping it in half. Kasinger said the impact was about 6 to 8 feet off the ground near Wilhelm Road. He estimated the tree was about 40 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter at the base.

Police said it was not immediately known if alcohol was a factor. Kasinger said the man had to be extricated from the 1996 Chevy Blazer, which came to rest on its side. U.S. 20 in both directions was closed for about 45 minutes to allow removal of the patient and police to investigate the crash scene.

"We had to land the helicopter right in the middle of U.S. 20," Kasinger said.

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