Northwest Indiana officer hospitalized after head-on crash with reported armed kidnapper

Crime

PORTER COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – A corporal officer from northwest Indiana was hospitalized with serious injuries after a head-on crash with a suspect vehicle.

Around 7 p.m. Saturday, the Indiana State Police Regional Dispatch Center got a call that a car with a kidnapping victim inside was traveling eastbound on I-94 from the Illinois state line. Troopers were told that the caller’s daughter was being held against her will and the offender was armed with a handgun. 

At 7:12 p.m., troopers found the suspect vehicle on I-94 near Burns Harbor and attempted to make a felony traffic stop on the vehicle. At first, the driver pulled over, but after stopping, the driver sped away.

Troopers could see several people in the vehicle, one of whom looked like a female. Because of their observations and the caller’s reported information, troopers pursued the vehicle. 

The pursuit continued eastbound on I-94, exited at S.R. 49, and went southbound. The driver turned right on 1050 N., north on Calumet and east on 1100 N. When the driver approached S.R. 49, he turned left, driving northbound in the southbound lanes. 

Three Porter police officers were driving southbound in the southbound lanes with their emergency lights on when they saw the vehicle speeding directly towards them. 

Two of the police cars were able to avoid it, but the third police car, a 2021 Dodge Durango, was struck head-on by the fleeing vehicle. The impact caused the police car to rotate and come to a rest facing northbound. 

The suspect vehicle came to a rest in the west ditch. Two people immediately got out of the vehicle and ran west towards Calumet Avenue. Troopers arrived and called out a foot pursuit when they saw someone running from the car. 

During the foot chase, one of the suspects was tased and taken into custody at the Phillips 66 gas station. He has been identified as Aries E. Atlas, 25, from Kalamazoo, Michigan and is incarcerated at the Porter County Jail. Atlas is being held on a “probable cause hold” pending formal charges by the Porter County Prosecutor’s Office. 

The second suspect, who was reported to be a white man wearing all black clothing, fled the scene. 

Sunday morning, the Chesterton Police Department got a call reporting a suspicious male at the same Phillips 66 gas station asking to use a phone there. Officers responded and found the suspect, who yelled a profanity at them and ran. 

Officers quickly chased him down and took him into custody. The suspect has been identified as Samuel A. Kuhl, 29, from Kalamazoo. 

He is wanted on two separate full extradition warrants in Kalamazoo for “Weapons Possession by a Felon” charges. He is currently being held at the Porter County Jail. 

Formal charges will be filed by the Indiana State Police as well as the Chesterton Police Department for his actions last night from the original pursuit and this morning. 

A handgun was recovered during the investigation and is determined to be a stolen handgun from Kalamazoo.  

There were 3 others in the suspect vehicle that did not leave the initial scene. One of those, a female, was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The suspect that was apprehended was taken to another hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. 

The officer in the police car that was hit, Corporal Scott Cornelison, is a 16-year veteran of the Porter Police Department. He was taken to the hospital with serious non-life-threatening injuries. 

The investigation surrounding the circumstances of the pursuit is being handled by the Indiana State Police Criminal Investigation Division.

The crash scene is being investigated by the Indiana State Police Crash Reconstruction Unit. Assisting at the scene were the Porter Police Department, Chesterton Police Department, Chesterton Fire Department, Porter County Sheriff’s Department, Northwest Health Ambulance, Joe’s Towing, the Lake County Sheriff’s Aviation, Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Valparaiso Police and Burns Harbor Police Department.

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