Man faces OWI homicide charges

By Mike Heine/The Week

(Published Jan. 18, 2007, 9:38 a.m.)


A Delavan man may have taken an entire bottle of Tylenol PM before crashing his truck into a parked car in the village of Walworth on Dec. 30, killing an Illinois attorney.

Police found a new-looking, empty, 150-count bottle of the over-the-counter pain reliever and sleep aid in Arthur J. Kuhnke's truck, according to a criminal complaint.

When Walworth Police Chief Chris Severt approached Kuhnke, who was sitting on the curb near the accident scene on the 100 block of Kenosha Street, Kuhnke was swaying and staring blankly, according to the complaint.

Kuhnke, 38, of 906 Bailey Road, would not give his name but told the chief he took prescription medication and Tylenol that day. He was unable to stand or walk under his own power, according to the complaint.

Lawrence Ptasinski, 57, a lawyer from Park Ridge, Ill., was standing next to his parked Volvo when it was struck from behind by Kuhnke's truck about 8:30 a.m.

Ptasinski was struck by his own vehicle due to the force of the impact. He died the next day at Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital in Wauwatosa.

One witness told police they saw Kuhnke's pickup truck run a stop sign at Highway 67 and County F, force other vehicles off the road and swerve from the road several times.

Another witness saw the truck strike the traffic island at Highway 67 and County B and speed through town at an estimated 50 mph, swerving on and off the curb, the complaint reads.

Kuhnke told police he was heading from East Troy to his home in Del-Mar subdivision, near Delavan Lake. He was not able to tell police how he got into Walworth, which is not part of a typical route from East Troy to his home.

On Dec. 31, police called a phone number that was dialed from Kuhnke's cell phone 15 minutes before the crash. The man who answered said Kuhnke told him he was thinking of killing himself by taking a large quantity of medication.

Kuhnke faces a single charge of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, punishable by up to 25 years in prison and a $100,000 fine if convicted.

Kuhnke remains in custody on a $10,000 bond.

 

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