A grand jury has filed additional charges against a woman accused of fatally striking a Deerfield school board member with her car and fleeing in Highland Park last summer.
Melanie A. Hass, 37, of Mundelein, was initially charged in December with one count of leaving the scene of a fatal crash, a Class 1 felony.
A Lake County grand jury last week returned a three-count indictment additionally charging Hass with reckless homicide and a second count of leaving the scene of a fatal crash.
The charges stem from a hit-and-run crash that occurred around 12:37 p.m. on June 2 at Deerfield Road and Piccadilly Road.
Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Ben Dillon said that first responders found Maureen Wener, 49, of Deerfield, lying in the eastbound curb lane of Deerfield Road with her bicycle nearby.
Wener had suffered serious injuries and her bicycle frame was broken in half.
Several bystanders stopped to aid the victim but none of them witnessed what happened, Dillon said.
Wener was transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville by ambulance and she was pronounced dead after arriving at the hospital.
The Lake County Major Crash Assistance Team (MCAT) and the Highland Park Police Department began investigating.
Surveillance video was obtained showing Wener riding her bicycle westbound on the sidewalk along eastbound Deerfield Road, Dillon said.
An autopsy showed Wener died from her numerous injuries that were the result of a bicycle and vehicle crash, Dillon said.
Wener was the secretary of the Deerfield Public Schools District 109 Board of Education.
Over eight hours after the incident, Hass went to the Highland Park Police Department and talked with investigators, Dillon said.
She told investigators she was driving around on her lunch break in her 2020 Jeep Wrangler.
Hass had just left the BP gas station and traveled westbound on Deerfield Road before realizing she needed to go eastbound on Deerfield Road.
Dillon said Hass told investigators she turned left onto Piccadilly Road and then did a three-point turn before proceeding to the stop sign.
She said she looked both ways multiple times and saw it was clear to proceed before driving onto Deerfield Road, at which time she bumped her tire off the curb, Dillon said.
Investigators learned from Hass’ co-worker that Hass had been vomiting in the bathroom and then left early from work. She never returned to work.
A crime lab forensics scientist confirmed marks left on Wener’s bicycle were made from Hass’ Jeep, Dillon said.
GPS data showed Hass did not actually come to a complete stop at the stop sign at Deerfield Road and Piccadilly Road, Dillon said.
The data also showed Hass then rapidly accelerated to 56 mph in a 30 mph zone as she fled the scene.
The initial charges were announced in early December, almost six months after the incident.
While the charge initially filed against Hass is non-detainable itself, prosecutors still have the option to file a petition to detain a defendant if they believe they are a willful flight risk.
The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office did not file a petition to detain Hass under that premise.
Lake County Judge Theodore Potkonjak ordered Hass to be placed on Level 4 pre-trial services — the highest level — and imposed a curfew on her following her arrest last month.
He also ordered the woman to not drive without a valid license and not to consume drugs or alcohol.
A wrongful death lawsuit is pending against Hass. It was filed by Lewis Law Firm in Lake Forest on behalf of the victim’s husband, Paul Rundell.
The suit said Hass was driving too fast for conditions, not paying attention to the roadway while distracted and did not keep a proper lookout for vehicles and pedestrians while making a U-turn.
Hass is scheduled to appear in court again on Thursday where she will be arraigned on the new charges.