LaPorte Co. high-speed chase ends north of the state line

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BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- A high-speed chase that began in LaPorte came to an end Wednesday night just past the state line into Michigan.

Around 9 p.m. central time, an officer attempted to pull over a man suspected of drunken driving in downtown LaPorte, and he fled.

Another officer aided in the pursuit, which ran north on S.R. 39 past the city limits and then west onto the Indiana Toll Road.

The driver then made a U-turn on the Toll Road near Portage and headed back east.

During the pursuit, the vehicle reached speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.

Once off the Toll Road, the vehicle again fled north on S.R. 39.

Both when he got on and off the Toll Road, the man, identified by LaPorte County Police as 47-year-old Leroy Michael Cortez, hit the toll booth gates damaging them and his Jeep.

Police were able to stop Cortez shortly after crossing the state line into Michigan on S.R. 239 just south of New Buffalo.

"Obviously, when you talk about those types of speeds,you know it's very dangerous to the citizens, it's very dangerous for the police officers actively pursuing the suspect," said Capt. Michael Kellems from the LaPorte County Sheriff's Dept. "But we've got a mission to try and stop this person and find out why he's driving so erratically. We're fortunate that there were no injuries in this case, none to the suspect and none to law enforcement."

Officers used a PIT (pursuit intervention technique) maneuver, leading the vehicle to lose control and roll over twice before coming to a rest on the side of the road. Cortez was then arrested and is being held in Berrien County on an OWI charge.

Cortez's preliminary blood alcohol results were 1.5 times above the legal limit.