Crime & Courts

Huntley man, 84, faces aggravated DUI charge after fatal Sun City crash

HUNTLEY – An 84-year-old Huntley man who crashed his car into a Sun City home in February has been charged with aggravated drunken driving after a woman who was in the home died this week.

Mary Ann Arneson, 75, of Huntley, died Sunday, family members said.

Two days later, prosecutors charged Donald F. Helfer, 84, of 12388 Black Oak Trail, Huntley, with aggravated driving under the influence causing great bodily injury. A Class 4 felony is typically punishable by one to three years in prison. However, DUI cases involving death or great bodily harm can have enhanced sentencing ranges.

“This case is still under investigation and we are reviewing the charges,” said Assistant State’s Attorney John Gibbons, chief of the Criminal Division at the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Huntley police were called at about 11:30 p.m. Feb. 4 to a crash in the area of Del Webb Boulevard and Hemmer Road.

At the scene, police found a 2005 Mercury Grand Marquis had crashed into a home in the 13300 block of Honeysuckle Drive.

Helfer and two people inside a bedroom of the home at the time of the crash were taken to Centegra Hospital – Huntley that night. Mary Ann Arneson was later flown to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. She died Sunday.

Helfer was driving south on Hemmer Road when he failed to yield at a stop sign at Del Webb Boulevard.

He drove through the three-way intersection, up a berm and into the house, police said at the time.

In 2004, a vehicle also drove through the intersection and into a berm at the same location, but did not crash into the house, according to Huntley police.

Police initially cited Helfer for failure to yield to avoid a crash. Officers requested a toxicology report as a routine part of their investigation.

On Tuesday, Helfer was charged with a felony in connection with the crash.

He was released after posting $1,500 of a $15,000 bond, according to a news release from the Huntley Police Department. Court records didn’t list an attorney for Helfer.

He could not be reached for comment at his home after 5 p.m. Wednesday.

He is next due in court April 26.

The victim, Arneson, moved to Sun City in 2005 and was a member of the Shepherd of the Prairie Lutheran Church in Huntley, according to her obituary.

Arneson attended Astoria Public School for 12 years and was at Augustana College for four years in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She sang in the Augustana Choir.

Arneson was an elementary school teacher for 28 years and taught piano lessons in her home for nine years. She also worked as a substitute teacher for eight years during her retirement.

Arneson married her husband, John, on June 30, 1962, at Bethany Church in Astoria, South Dakota.

She enjoyed music, traveling and crafts such as stained glass, painting, ceramics and playing cards, according to the obituary.

Arneson is survived by her husband John, son Michael, daughter Michele, daughter-in-law Kristi and four grandchildren, Jessica, Jacob, Jackson and Cooper. She is also survived by her sister Wanda, nieces, nephews, in-laws and friends.

Memorial services will be April 18 at Shepherd of the Prairie Lutheran Church, 10805 Main St., Huntley. Visitation begins at 10 a.m. with services starting at 11 a.m.

Family members declined to comment Wednesday on the criminal charges.

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