PORTAGE | A 44-year-old Portage man who recently started in a new teaching position at a Merrillville school died Wednesday after stepping into traffic on I-94, officials said.
Indiana State Police said at 3:33 a.m., Mark Sulich got out of his 2008 Honda passenger car parked on the shoulder of westbound Interstate 94 near the Ind. 249 exit in Portage. The vehicle did not have its hazard lights on or warning devices activated, Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris said.
A 2006 Kenworth semitruck pulling a box trailer was in the westbound right lane when he noticed the Honda parked on the shoulder.
He looked to change lanes, and as he looked back, he saw Sulich enter the right lane before he struck him with the semi, police said.
Sulich was pronounced dead at the scene of massive blunt force trauma, police said.
The driver of the semi, Bradley Goudman, 37, of Avilla, Ind., was cited for his log book not being current.
Indiana State Police said the right westbound lane of I-94 at Ind. 249 was closed until 7:45 a.m. for the investigation.
Dr. Joi Patterson, vice president of academic affairs and chief operating officer for Calumet College of St. Joseph, said Sulich started in the masters of arts in teaching program there this semester to get his teaching certificate.
Patterson said Sulich was hired this year as a math teacher at Pierce Middle School in Merrillville on an emergency permit. He had an undergraduate degree, which allowed him to work as a full-time teacher while enrolled in the master's degree program, she said.
Pierce school officials were not available Wednesday for comment.
Sulich was the owner of TJ's Pocket Billiards in Portage. He was remembered Wednesday morning for his generosity.
"We did a billiards tourney at his place for the last three years," said Ron Ranta, director of South Haven Boys & Girls Club. "Mark set up everything. He hosted it and did not charge us. In fact he gave the kids stuff on the way out. He was a real good guy. He was a giving guy who had a passion for billiards."
Times Porter County community coordinator Annette Arnold contributed to this report.