LAKE STATION – A 21-year-old Portage man was fleeing police early Thursday at a speed in excess of 80 mph before crashing into the rear of a semitrailer on a local stretch of westbound Interstate 94 and dying as a result of his injuries, according to Portage police.
The man, who was identified as Theodore D. Hickman, had a valid driver’s license with a motorcycle learner’s permit, said Sgt. Rob Maynard, public information officer with the Portage Police Department.
But the motorcycle he was driving did not have a license plate affixed to it and records show no valid license plate registered to the vehicle, he said.
Portage police said they first encountered Hickman on the 1998 Honda motorcycle at 12:40 a.m. when an officer saw him traveling westbound on Central Avenue near the intersection of Willowcreek Road.
As the officer began following the bike to determine if it was speeding, the motorcycle was seen disregarding the stop sign on Central Avenue at Willowdale Road, Maynard said. The bike then disregarded a traffic signal at Dombey Road as it continued at a high rate of speed westbound on Central Avenue.
After the officer activated emergency lights and siren in an attempt to stop the motorcycle, the bike disregarded another traffic signal as it turned north on Indiana 51 and then it continued west on I-94, police said.
The officer was traveling 80 mph in a 55-mph zone in the center lane of the highway following the motorcycle when the bike sped away, closing in on a semitrailer ahead, police said. Both the bike and truck pulled over to the right lane simultaneously, at which time a collision occurred.
"Despite wearing a helmet the motorcycle driver suffered serious trauma injuries and was transported by EMS to Northlake Methodist Hospital where he was pronounced deceased," police said.
State police officers responded to the scene at 12:50 a.m. to conduct an independent crash investigation, according to Portage police. An autopsy and toxicology results are pending through the Lake County coroner's office.
The impact of the crash sent Hickman off the motorcycle, state police said. The collision temporarily closed all westbound lanes of I-94.
All lanes of the highway were reopened by 5 a.m., police said.
Agencies that assisted at the scene included the Lake County Sheriff’s Reconstruction Team, Lake Station Fire/EMS, Burns Harbor Police Department, first Response Towing and Double T Towing.
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