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Indiana police: Woman stole La Porte County sheriff’s vehicle in fatal crash

Woman dies after stealing, crashing police car

LA PORTE, Ind. (WISH) — A La Porte County Sheriff’s Office vehicle was involved in a fatal crash sometime late Wednesday night, Indiana State Police say.

State police Sgt. Glen Fifield told the Times of Northwest Indiana on Thursday that a woman died after she allegedly stole the sheriff’s office vehicle and crashed it during a police chase. Those details were not part of a news release from the state police sergeant on Thursday afternoon.

The woman was identified Friday as Melissa L. Collins, 21, from Lafayette.

A Friday news release from state police provided new details:

“The Indiana State Police was requested to investigate a fatal crash that involved a LaPorte County police car. The investigation showed that a suspect had been handcuffed and secured in the front passenger seat of a 2021 Ford Explorer police car assigned to Deputy David Grimberg. It was determined that the suspect was able to manipulate the handcuffs, unbuckled the seatbelt, took possession of the police car, and drove away from the scene in the stolen vehicle. Officers at the scene attempted to catch up to the stolen police car but lost sight of the vehicle. As they were looking for the stolen police car, they came upon debris in the roadway in the area of 2100 S. and 875 W., and they located the stolen vehicle submerged in water in a ditch. Evidence at the scene indicated that the vehicle crashed after crossing a set of railroad tracks at an extremely high rate of speed. The driver was located inside the vehicle and was later pronounced deceased by the LaPorte County Coroner’s Office. Cause and manner of death will be determined through an autopsy by the LaPorte County Coroner.”

State police say LaPorte County Sheriff Ron Heeg asked state police to investigate the incident.