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Charges for woman who police say fatally struck biker while doing nails
Prosecutor: 'Oblivious' driver struck, killed Lake Zurich motorcyclist
By Russell Lissau | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/16/2009 5:59 PM | Updated: 9/17/2009 9:31 AM

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A driver who authorities say was painting her fingernails when she struck and killed a motorcyclist in Lake County was indicted on Wednesday and charged with reckless homicide.

Lora L. Hunt, 48, of Morris, faces a six-count indictment in connection with the May 2 death of Lake Zurich resident Anita Zaffke. She faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

Hunt was driving about 50 mph, under the posted speed limit, when she hit Zaffke's motorcycle at the corner of Rand and Old McHenry roads near Lake Zurich, police said.

In May police said Hunt told them she was painting her nails while driving. But at the time her attorney, Ragan Freitag, said only: "At this point she is really distressed. There are some things she remembers and some things she doesn't."

On Wednesday, Hunt's attorney, Jeff Tomczak, said he was aware of the indictment but hadn't yet read the documents.

Zaffke, 56, was obeying a traffic signal and was stopped at the intersection when she was killed.

Zaffke's widely publicized death prompted a debate about the danger caused by distracted drivers. But Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Mike Mermel said Wednesday Hunt's actions went beyond distracted driving.

He said Hunt was "oblivious" to the safety of the other motorists on the road.

"Distracted driving is ... changing the radio station or yelling at your kids," Mermel said. "(This) was not distracted driving. It's almost intentionally reckless."

In May, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran called Zaffke's death an accident that resulted from a "momentary lapse" of judgment. Mermel bristled at that description.

"This was never an accident," he said.

Hunt initially was ticketed for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, but the charge was dropped to avoid potential double-jeopardy problems, where she couldn't be tried in a crime she was already convicted or acquitted of, Mermel said.

The grand jury's six-count indictment reflects various aspects of the case, Mermel said.

Bond was set at $100,000 for Hunt. Tomczak said his office is making arrangements for Hunt to surrender.