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VALPARAISO | A Portage man was arrested and charged with drunken driving after a Jeep he was driving crashed through the front of a building, pinning a woman underneath.

Bernie Nygra, 68, was charged with three counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, including allegedly driving drunk and causing serious bodily injury.

Just before 11 a.m. Friday, Nygra allegedly drove his Jeep through the front of Orthopedic & Balance Therapy Specialists, 3125 Calumet Ave.

The Jeep trapped a woman underneath. Emergency workers had to extricate the woman from under the vehicle. She was then airlifted to a medical facility.

Valparaiso Police Sgt. Mike Grennes said he would not release the identity of the woman Friday and did not know to which hospital she was airlifted. 

Police said Nygra displayed signs of intoxication and was not injured. A blood test was conducted at Porter Hospital and Nygra tested over the legal limit with a .15 blood alcohol content level. He was transported to Porter County Jail.

The Jeep went all the way through the business and crashed into the wall of the women's bathroom in an adjacent business, Serranos Mexican Grill, where firefighters were assisting the woman, who was trapped for nearly 40 minutes. She was the only one injured inside the business.

Grennes said the crash is under investigation but said the driver of the Jeep was the only occupant in the car.

Devon Bronson, who works at the nearby Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches shop, said he saw the Jeep moving at a "good speed" before the crash.

Adrian Lopez was working in Serranos when the crash occurred and said he "heard a loud noise."

John Marshall, who represents the management company for the building, said except for Serranos, all other businesses remained open with some restrictions.

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Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly 40 years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.

Lake County reporter

Rob covers urban affairs and other matters in Crown Point, St. John, Winfield and beyond. Previously he covered Valparaiso, Hammond, Gary and East Chicago. He's also written for various magazines and pens a culture blog for The Times.