6 P.M. UPDATE: The St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office has released the name of a man who police say died during a chase early this morning, with the wreckage and his body going unnoticed for several hours.
The following release was issued just before 6 p.m. Saturday:
F.A.C.T. has confirmed the identity of the victim from this morning's crash near Roosevelt Road and U.S. 31 and the family has been notified. The victim has been positively identified as Kevin Combs, 42, of South Bend.
Around 1 a.m. this morning, a St. Joseph County police officer was following a white Nissan 300 that was speeding to read a plate, which led to a chase down Roosevelt Road. As the police officer and Nissan turned onto U.S. 31, the police officer crashed into a semi-truck. The semi-truck driver and police officer suffered only minor injuries.
Later this morning, around 7 a.m., a home owner in the 20000 block of Roosevelt Road called police regarding a car in their backyard. The car was the Nissan from the chase earlier that morning, and it was found wrecked against a tree. The car had veered off the road and driven through fields where it then struck the tree. The driver, Mr. Combs, was ejected from the car on impact and was reported dead on the scene when police arrived. F.A.C.T. was called in to investigate.
F.A.C.T. continues to actively investigate and awaits toxicology results.
Greg Burkowski lives on Roosevelt Road across the street from where Kevin Combs crashed.
He says, "I'm sorry somebody had to lose their life over a traffic infraction but then again somebody driving that fast on the road that's not too smart either."
Some people woke up when they heard the car crash but didn't know what it was.
Burkowski says he slept through it and didn't know anything happened until we saw the police cars in the morning.
He says, "After seven o'clock when I went over to the neighbor's house and checked to see what was happening we had a lot of squad cars parked along the street."
ORIGINAL STORY (posted Saturday morning): Police tell us a suspect fleeing police early this morning crashed and died, but no one knew until hours later.
All of this happened around 1 a.m. in the area of U.S. 31 and Roosevelt.
Sgt. Bill Kraus with South Bend police told a WSBT reporter at the scene that a county officer was pursuing a speeding car when that officer himself was involved in a collision with a semi.
There were only minor injuries in that crash, says Kraus.
Unseen by anyone at the time, Kraus tells us the suspect drove off the road, traveled about 150 feet east of U.S. 31, hit a tree and then a shed in someone's back yard. The suspect was killed in that crash.
Because of the confusion and low-light conditions, no one noticed the suspect had crashed instead of getting away. That wasn't discovered until around 7:20 when it was light enough to see the wreck.
"Unfortunately, this person was not located until the sun was up," Kraus said. "This area in the middle of the night is basically pitch black. There's no street lighting, there's no residual lighting at all. During the course of the crash, the subject took out a tree, which also took out any view you had from U.S. 31 of the crash. It wasn't until this morning that someone got up and found the subject."
The suspect was found dead about 30 feet from his vehicle, neighbors tell us.
Kraus tells us the officer was chasing the suspect because he was speeding, and that he was going so fast the officer couldn't get close enough to even see a license plate number.
FACT is investigating the crash.
Police say an autopsy and toxicology test will be done on the suspect. His name is not being released at this time.
Stay with us for updates.