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New DUI Charge For Man Convicted Of Killing 4 In Drunken Crash

Walter Depner (Credit: Illinois Department of Corrections)

Walter Depner (Credit: Illinois Department of Corrections)

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LAKEMOOR, Ill. (STMW) – A parolee who spent nearly 12 years in prison for triggering a horrific drunken-driving crash that killed a McHenry County mother and her three children is facing new DUI charges.

Walter Depner was arrested Sunday night in northwest suburban Lakemoor — not far from site of the 1999 head-on collision that killed 34-year-old Eva Burleson and her children: Daniel, 13, Tiffany, 11 and Dallis, 7.

“Some people never learn,” McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren said Monday. “He just doesn’t seem to care.”

Depner received a maximum 14-year prison term after being convicted of aggravated DUI and reckless homicide in the Aug. 21, 1999 collision on Route 120. Tests after the crash showed he had a blood-alcohol level of .10 — above the state’s .08 legal limit.

Thomas Burleson, Eva Burleson’s husband and the children’s father, survived the 11 p.m. crash and testified that he was abruptly blinded by the headlights of an oncoming vehicle in his lane.

“I cannot explain it to you as quick as it happened,” Burleson told jurors at Depner’s 2003 trial.

Depner, who even at his sentencing insisted he wasn’t drunk and didn’t cause the crash, served almost 12 years behind bars before being paroled in June 2011, according to state records. His parole is scheduled to end this June.

He was arrested about 6:15 p.m. Sunday after McHenry County sheriff’s police received a call about a car running off the road near Lakemoor. A second caller who lived close by reported minutes later that a man had driven into his driveway, then walked uninvited into his home.

Police identified the man as Depner, saying his speech was slurred and he appeared intoxicated. Depner, who had lived in the neighborhood at the time of the 1999 crash, was taken for treatment to Centegra Medical Center in McHenry. He allegedly told police Sunday he went for a drive after quarreling with his girlfriend.

Depner was charged with DUI and driving on a revoked license.

The arrest also means his parole also could be revoked.

“This time, we were fortunate: no one was hurt,” said Nygren.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)