Cops: Biker killed by driver painting nails

May 5, 2009 4:41:08 AM PDT
A motorcycle driver was killed when she was rear-ended by a driver who was allegedly painting her nails. The distracted driver ran a red light and crashed into the bike, according to police, just before 6 p.m. Saturday in northwest suburban Lake Zurich.

The crash happened in unincorporated Lake County at Route 12 and Old McHenry Road.

The victim, Anita Zaffke, was wearing a helmet, but it did not save her life.

No criminal charges have been filed against the driver responsible for striking and killing Zaffke, 56, who was a Lake Zurich resident.

Prosecutors are waiting for blood and urine test results as well as the report from crash scene investigators before they decide to file criminal charges.

According to Zaffke's family, she was leaving her son's apartment. He lives in Waukegan, and she was heading back to her home. They had been there talking about plans for the upcoming Mother's Day.

Relatives say Anita Zaffke had a passion for the open road and motorcycles.

"It was pretty much disbelief at first. We went up to the intersection, just went up and down, to try to see how this could possibly have happened," said Greg Zaffke, son of Anita Zaffke.

Investigators say Anita Zaffke came to a stop on her Honda Shadow motorcycle at an intersection. A Chevy Impala driven by Laura Hunt, 48, of Morris, rear ended Anita Zaffke.

The Lake County sheriff says they never expected what Hunt told them next.

"When we spoke with Laura Hunt, we were able to determine that she had been painting her nails while driving her vehicle. She conceded to us she was not paying attention," said Sheriff Mark Curran, Lake County.

Anita Zaffke later died at an area hospital of internal injuries. Authorities are considering whether to file criminal charges against the driver and say they are waiting for results of toxicology tests and the accident reconstruction and other technical evidence before deciding what charges to file.

In the meantime, Anita Zaffke's son wears black nail polish to bring attention to the need for stricter penalties for people who hurt motorcyclists like his mom.

"I'm sure there are motorcycle groups who would like to hear about this story and potentially help us get the story out," said Greg Zaffke.

Attorneys for Laura Hunt say at this point in time their client has only been cited for a traffic violation - failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. They also say they will continue to be in contact with the Lake County state's attorney as the investigation continues.

On Monday night at Hunt's home in Morris, there was no comment. But her attorney says she hasn't seen the police report and won't comment on whether her client was painting her nails while driving.

"At this point, she is really distressed. There are some things she remembers and some things she doesn't. She is distraught over this," said Ragan Freitag, Hunt's attorney.

Freitag says Hunt is a mother of five and grandmother of six. When the accident happened, Hunt was driving from Wisconsin to Des Plaines to deliver a crib to a daughter who is about to give birth.


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