Hoosiers age 16 and older now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana opened up COVID-19 vaccinations Wednesday to all Hoosiers age 16 and older in the latest expansion of the state’s vaccination efforts days before it plans to lift a statewide mask mandate.

Gov. Eric Holcomb had announced Wednesday’s planned expansion to those 16 and older last week, while also announcing plans to lift the mask mandate and remaining COVID-19 business restrictions on April 6.

Indiana’s expansion of vaccine eligibility for youths and people in their 20s comes two days after state health officials expanded vaccine eligibility to people ages 30 to 39.

The Indiana Department of Health said that during Monday’s first day of vaccine eligibility for people in their 30s more than 79,000 Hoosiers in that age group signed up to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box has said that is “imperative” that every eligible adult get inoculated against the coronavirus.

Holcomb, Box and other state officials were scheduled to provide an update on the state’s fight against COVID-19 on Wednesday afternoon during a weekly news briefing.

As of Tuesday, a total of 1,630,152 first doses of vaccine have been administered across Indiana, and 1,109,238 — more than 16% of Indiana’s population— have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Eligible Indiana residents can schedule an appointment to receive a vaccine by visiting https://ourshot.in.gov or calling 211 if they do not have access to a computer, or require assistance.

16-year-old canoer missing on White River in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS — Authorities are searching the White River and its banks in Indianapolis for a 16-year-old boy who’s missing after the canoe he was riding in went over a dam.

The canoe carrying the boy, a 45-year-old man and a dog overturned at the dam near downtown Indianapolis about 7:20 p.m. Tuesday, Indianapolis Fire Department Battalion Chief Rita Reith said. None was wearing a life jacket.

The man made it to the west bank of the river, and rescue crews took him to a hospital in good condition, Reith said. The dog swam safely to the east bank.

Two IFD divers searched the river at a depth of 4-12 feet for a combined 22 minutes but “faced extreme subsurface hazards based on river conditions and swift moving current” before abandoning their efforts because of approaching inclement weather and darkness, Reith said.

Searches of the river surface and banks were to resume Wednesday, but no further diving was planned, Reith said.

Indiana woman gets 12 years for crash that led to amputation

FORT WAYNE — A Fort Wayne woman who admitted ramming her car into another car, leaving a man so badly injured one of his legs was later amputated, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Brandee Johnson, 29, was sentenced Monday in Allen County after pleading guilty March 1 to leaving the scene of the September 2020 crash at a Speedway convenience store.

Johnson told officers she went to the store with her 1-year-old daughter intending to get gas, drinks and snacks. But Johnson said she got an “eerie feeling” after noticing three men near the store’s entrance, and believed they were pointing at her and laughing, according to court documents.

Johnson said the men made derogatory remarks, including a racial slur, and those words “threw her off,” The Journal Gazette reported.

Authorities said Johnson’s driver’s license was suspended when she parked alongside a gas pump and waited in her car for about 10 minutes. Witnesses told police she floored the vehicle and aimed the car at the three men, who were standing behind another vehicle, court records state.

The impact pinned one of the men between the two vehicles, nearly severing his right leg, which was amputated at a hospital.

After the collision, Johnson left her car, glanced at the injured man and fled on a foot, leaving her young daughter behind, according to court documents.

Under her plea agreement, prosecutors dropped aggravated battery, neglect and other charges.

Gary woman reaches plea deal in attack on teacher, principal

CROWN POINT — A Gary woman has agreed to plead guilty to battery charges for allegedly attacking an elementary school teacher and a principal after her son went missing from school in 2018.

Latashay Bonner, 32, agreed Tuesday to plead guilty to felony battery resulting in moderate bodily injury and misdemeanor battery resulting in bodily injury. A Lake County judge must accept the plea agreement, which also calls for Bonner to undergo anger management and write letters of apology.

Bonner’s attorney, Matt LaTulip, said his client had no criminal history before or after the September 2018 altercations at Marquette Elementary in Gary, the Post-Tribune of Merrillville reported.

In that incident, Bonner walked into the school after being told her son was missing and began yelling and cursing at the principal in front of students, court records state.

Bonner’s son was soon found outside the school, but before that discovery she pushed the principal to the ground and kicked her in the leg, causing her to twist her knee, records state.

When a teacher asked Bonner to leave, she pushed her to the ground, sat on the woman’s hips, repeatedly punched her in the back of the head, and “kicked and stomped” on her left hip before being pulled off, records state.

The Gary school district sued Bonner in September for damages stemming from the fight. The district alleges it paid nearly $26,000 in medical bills and lost wages for both school employees.

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