Wild police chase ends in Michigan City

Michael Vysinka

MICHIGAN CITY – A Porter County man suspected of numerous gas station burglaries in Porter and Lake counties was arrested Saturday after a lengthy police pursuit – that reached speeds of 100 mph – ended near the Walmart store in Michigan City.

Michael Ray Vysinka, 45, of Hebron, remained in the Porter County Jail on Tuesday, charged with felony counts of burglary, theft with a prior conviction, resisting law enforcement with a vehicle, and resisting law enforcement with a deadly weapon, according to court records. He was also charged with misdemeanor counts of theft and resisting law enforcement.

Porter Police said that about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, an officer was dispatched to assist Chesterton Police with an alarm at the Speedway station at 752 Indian Boundary Road. The report noted there have been multiple gas stations burglarized in the past several weeks – in Chesterton, Burns Harbor, Porter County and Lake County – and all involved the theft of a large quantities of Newport cigarettes.

The Porter officer was nearing the station when he saw a green 1999 Volkswagen Passat westbound on Indian Boundary Road near Ind. 49 that had no license plate, and initiated a traffic stop, the report said.

The car pulled over and the officer said he recognized the driver, Vysinka, from when he worked at the Porter County Jail and Vysinka was an inmate.

Vysinka said he didn’t know why he was being pulled over, and the officer told him the car had no plate. “I asked him, ‘Do you have a bag full of stolen Newport cigarette packs in the car?’ He replied, ‘No.’ To which I stated, ‘then you don’t have anything to worry about,’” the Porter officer said in the report.

But as the officer went back to his vehicle to speak with a Chesterton officer, Vysinka took off northbound at a high rate of speed, the report said.

He drove onto eastbound I-94 with the officer in pursuit, a chase that at times reached 100 mph, the report said, before the car exited onto southbound U.S. 421 in Michigan City.

Michigan City police and the La Porte County Sheriff’s Department were notified of the pursuit entering the county as the Passat turned east on CR-300N, then north on CR-850W, then back westbound on CR-400N, the report said.

That’s where Michigan City Police deployed a “stop stick” and the front passenger-side tire of the car was deflated, according to a sheriff’s department report.

However, Vysinka did not stop, driving on three good tires, and nearly striking another car after running a red light at Cleveland Avenue before turning into the parking lot of Walmart, according to police.

The car drove past the garden center and across the lot before striking an eight-inch cement curb near the Murphy gas station and becoming disabled, according to the sheriff’s department. Vysinka then got out and took off on foot into a nearby wooded area and south toward Davita Dyalysis, according to the report.

He was apprehended just before entering the trees.

Officers found a pack of Newports in his pocket and “a garbage bag full of Newport cigarettes” on the front floorboard on the passenger side of the car, the report said.

Vysinka told police he drove off because of an outstanding warrant and that “an associate,” not he, was involved in the burglary, police said. However, surveillance video from the gas station showed Vysinka inside the store, the report said.

He complained of back and hip pain, saying he’d tripped over a concrete barrier while fleeing, according to the sheriff’s department. He was taken to Franciscan Health Michigan City before being cleared for release, and was taken to the jail by Chesterton Police.

Court records show Vysinka has a lengthy criminal history including multiple convictions for theft, auto theft and drug chareges; and also has pending cases in Lake and Porter counties for burglary and theft. His next court appearance on the latest charges is scheduled for Friday in Porter Superior Court 2.

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