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Chesterton man killed in crash on Wozniak Road

COOLSPRING TWP. — A Porter County resident was killed when his car slammed into a utility pole Monday morning in a rural area just south of Michigan City, according to authorities.

About 8:51 a.m., La Porte County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a report of a crash in the 2100 North block of Wozniak Road in unincorporated Coolspring Township, according to a statement from the Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies Ken Etchison and Bobby Greer arrived on the scene first and found a sedan that had driven off of the east side of Wozniak Road, just south of Orchard Drive, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Investigation of the crash scene determined that a red 2015 Nissan had been traveling south on Wozniak Road, police said.

For an unknown reason, the vehicle drove left of the center line and across the northbound lane of traffic. It then left the traveled portion of the roadway and struck a NIPSCO utility pole before coming to rest, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The driver and lone occupant of the Nissan was identified as 53-year-old Chesterton resident Michael A. Toth, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Toth was pronounced dead at the scene by the La Porte County Coroner’s Office. Toxicology results are pending.

Wozniak Road was closed in both directions for about two hours for crash cleanup and investigation.

The speed limit in the area is 35 mph.

Sheriff’s deputies were assisted at the scene by the Coolspring Township Volunteer Fire Department, La Porte County EMS, Cloverleaf Garage and NIPSCO.


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Marley goes from Michigan City stray to social media sensation

MICHIGAN CITY — He may be the most unlikely of social media sensations, but a terminally ill dog found wandering the streets of Michigan City has a new home and thousands of followers.

Marley arrived at the Michiana Humane Society around New Year’s Eve with another dog after they were found running stray, according to shelter executive director Johann Humbert.

And after a medical check, the prognosis was not good.

“When they first came in we thought Marley might have mange. His skin was scabby and pink, and uncomfortable. Our vet assistant did a few skin scrapings looking for telltale mites but found none,” Humbert said.

Shelter staff started giving the pit bull soothing baths a few times a week, she said.

“The pinkness was reduced and he seemed more comfortable, but he still had scabby lesions. So a couple of weeks ago we took him to Michigan City Animal Hospital. Dr. Bailey suspected skin cancer and wanted the go-ahead to send out tissue biopsies. That cost about $700, but we did want to confirm what the situation was.”

Unfortunately, the vet’s diagnosis was correct.

Marley “has a type of lymphoma that presents through the skin. His prognosis is less than six months,” Humbert staff.

Shelter staff, hoping to find a home for Marley to live out the rest of his life in comfort, started posting photos on social media.

“The thing is, Marley just loves people. He is a happy boy and thrives on attention,” Humbert said. “So we reached out for a hospice home for him.”

Enter Jordan and Jen Chapman of Kankakee, Illinois. Jordan runs a shelter and the couple has fostered a number of sick dogs over the years, according to Humbert.

Jordan Chapman said as soon as she heard the story, she was hooked.

“Someone that I’m friends with on Facebook shared Marley’s post about being up for adoption on Jan. 31, so I sent it to my wife, Jen, and basically said, ‘Gimme’,” she said.

“Jen said ‘Go get him,’ so, that weekend we drove an hour-and-a-half to meet Marley. I filled out an application and the staff told me he had a meet-and-greet later in the week,” Jordan said.

“The meet-and-greets didn’t work out, so I explained that I am the director of an animal shelter about an hour south of Chicago, so I am familiar with extensive medical conditions, and that my wife is an end-of-life massage therapist for hospice.”

The application was approved and they picked up Marley in early February.

Humbert called it “truly a match made in heaven.”

And because so many people had seen and commented on the MHS Facebook post, Jordan said “it just seemed kind of natural to make him an Instagram so people could follow along with the rest of his life.

“Some of my friends don’t have Instagram, and some people I didn’t even know were asking about how to get those updates on Facebook, so I created a Facebook page as well, and they both have pretty much taken off.”

Anyone can follow the dog at marleysmiles_ and see what he’s up to. And a lot of people are doing so – Marley has more than 1,000 followers on Instagram and 4,000 on Facebook.

And the Chapmans say Marley is very happy in his new home.

“Marley couldn’t really have settled in any better to be honest,” Jordan said. “We expected to have a comfort curve with house training, but he’s been perfect. He nudged Jen around 3 a.m. his first night and she took him out, he went to the bathroom, and then he ran back into bed and got under the blanket.”

Marley went to a new veterinarian last week and will be starting chemo medication in the next week or two, “but that shouldn’t have any really awful side effects,” Jordan said.

Marley’s blog post explained it this way:

“Hemlo! I met a super nice tech at the doctor today! She gave me a few cookies and told me how handsome I am! I met my doctor and she gave me lots of butt scratches, too! I will be starting a course of steroid pills to help make some of the lesions on my back and sides smaller, as well as help me not feel so itchy.

“My moms have been giving me Benadryl to help with that also, and my doctor said that’s great and that I can keep taking that as well! I also will be starting some chemo meds to help keep me comfortable. I will get that medicine every 3 weeks and it will hopefully reduce the size of a few of the bigger lesions, as well as help them close up and heal.

“I know that there’s no way to fully treat and make my cancer go away, but these medicines won’t be rough on my body & will still keep me comfortable enough to keep marking things off my bucket list! I was such a good boy at the vet, if I do say so myself. Thank you VCA County West Animal Hospital for seeing me today, and all the days moving forward, and being so gentle with me!

“Now I’m back home, curled up on the couch, having another great snore filled naparoo!”

“He had a hamburger last week, got his first Starbucks pup cup ... and this weekend he got to be an honorary fire dog and ride in an engine with the St. Anne Fire Protection District,” Jordan said.

And on Tuesday he met with the staff of the Hospice of Kankakee Valley in Bourbonnais, Illinois.

Those were among the things on Marley’s “bucket list,” a roster of plans for things the Chapmans hope to do with him before the disease takes him

“His bucket list has some fun things, some insanely random things, and some things that are kind of just out there that probably aren’t realistic,” Jordan said, “but we’re just going for it.

“Walk on the beach, see the Bean, go to the drive-in, visit Wrigley Field, meet someone famous, win on a scratch-off ticket, and receive postcards from all over – sure, dogs can’t read, but we just feel like we can make up for the last 13.5 years of his life, as long as we have a little help.”

She said she knows that Marley “feels the love,” even if he can’t read the posts.

“He always wants us to be in the same room that he is, but not just one of us ... both of us. He bounces back and forth until we’re all in the same room, always wants to be held when he’s asleep,” Jordan said.

“He still acts like a puppy sometimes though. He loves to roll around, chew on hooves, eat and snore. He’s such a character.”

Humbert said it was more than the MHS staff could have asked for.

“They have a bucket list that they hope to offer Marley wonderful experiences while he is still able to enjoy them,” she said.

“And when the time comes that he no longer has a good quality of life, they will help him to have a painless and dignified last day.”

Jordan said they’re hoping that time is still quite a ways off.

“We both already couldn’t imagine life without him,” she said.


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Former MC mom asking city to vote for daughter in Great Bike Giveaway

WESTFIELD — To mark Disability Awareness Month in March, former Michigan City Human Rights Commissioner Joanne Tedesco is reaching back to her community for support and votes.

The former Michigan City Area Schools Board member and longtime disability advocate has entered the Great Bike Giveaway, an annual program hosted by Friendship Circle, a non-profit that provides children with special needs the opportunity to win an adaptive bike.

To date, more than 1,000 adaptive bikes have been given to individuals with special needs, and Tedesco wants her daughter to be next.

“Every child deserves to experience the joy of riding a bike and this contest is a way for us to win a bike that will allow Madelyn and I to hit the trails in our new community,” said Tedesco, who left MC last year to take a job in central Indiana.

“Madelyn can ride a bike but has no understanding of her surroundings, which creates a safety hazard for her and those around her.”

In order to win, Tedesco must receive the most votes and/or obtain donations for the amount of the tandem bike – $5,400 – she’s hoping for.

While her daughter can ride an adaptive three-wheeled bike, she doesn’t understand her place within space, which can create a huge safety risk.

Tedesco said she’s “desperately” asking her former community for support by going to her page – greatbikegiveaway.com/ LittleMissSunshine.

“In order for Madelyn to ride her bike, I must run alongside of her to make sure she doesn’t hit a mailbox, person, car …and we really want to experience a family bike outing, which we’ve not done since she was born almost 11 years ago,” Tedesco said.

“So, I’m asking the wonderful, supportive city of Michigan City to please vote and share the contest link with family and friends. Please ask them to vote so we can win from most votes alone.”

The Great Bike Giveaway registration and voting started on Feb. 12 and voting ends on Wednesday, March 4 at 11 a.m. (CST). Winners with the most votes will be announced on March 5.

Fundraising ends and the Great Bike Giveaway will conclude on Wednesday, March 25.

Friendship Circle, a non-profit, is hosting the annual Giveaway that provides children with special needs the opportunity to win an adaptive bicycle. To date, more than $1 million has been raised and more than 1,100 adaptive bikes have been provided to kids with disabilities.

“Imagine never being able to ride a bike with your family or not having the chance to ride with friends? For a child with special needs, riding a bike is much more than exercise, it’s about making them like just one of the kids,” Tedesco said.

For more information about the Great Bike Giveaway, visit greatbikegiveaway.com

There are 54 million Americans with a disability, and adults and children with disabilities represent nearly a fifth of Indiana’s population, Tedesco said.

With Disability Awareness Month in its 30th year, she would like to pay it forward by offering her current three-wheeled adaptive bike to a family in need. If you’re interested, contact her at 573-355-7855 or tedescofamily@outlook.com.