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updated: 4/4/2013 5:27 PM

Elgin woman faces felony charges in chase, multiple crashes

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  • Erin N. Panepucci

    Erin N. Panepucci

Daily Herald staff report

A 38-year-old Elgin woman has been charged with aggravated driving under the influence in connection with a hit-and-run crash March 27 that led to a police chase ending with the car hitting an Elk Grove Village school, doing more than $100,000 in damage, authorities said.

Erin N. Panepucci, of the 11N000 block of Capulet Court, also was charged Wednesday with aggravated fleeing and eluding. She was released at the Roselle police department after posting 10 percent of her $75,000 bail on the felony charges, which were approved by the DuPage County State's Attorney's office. Her court date is May 6.

Court records show Panepucci disobeyed at least two traffic control devices during the chase. She has at least two prior DUI convictions, records show.

Panepucci also faces an unrelated retail theft charge in DuPage. She is accused of stealing $1,100 worth of clothes from Von Maur at Yorktown Center in Lombard in December 2012, according to court records. Her next court date in the theft case is April 8 in front of Judge Daniel Guerin.

Police from multiple jurisdictions gave this account of what led to Panepucci's recent DUI arrest:

About 10:30 p.m. March 27, a Cook County Sheriff's police deputy tried to stop a 2013 Honda Accord that was involved in a minor crash near Lake Street and Gary Avenue. The female driver took off and later drove the vehicle through the gate of Ge Transportation, 6300 Muirfield Drive, Hanover Park.

The sheriff's deputy attempted to catch up with the vehicle, which was traveling eastbound on Muirfield, partially in the westbound lane, and then headed northbound on Turnberry Drive. The officer noted the license plate number and informed Hanover Park police, who in turn notified Roselle police that the vehicle was last seen in the area of Central and Gary avenues in Roselle.

A Roselle officer saw a vehicle matching the description exit the eastbound Elgin-O'Hare Expressway onto northbound Roselle Road, striking the guardrail while turning.

The Roselle officer tried to pull over the vehicle, which accelerated. The officer caught up with the vehicle when it crashed into a classroom at Grove Junior High, 777 Elk Grove Blvd., around midnight. The driver was hospitalized at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village for treatment, but has since been released.

Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59 is awaiting an insurance adjuster's estimate of damages to the school after the vehicle drove all the way through the classroom and into the hallway, destroying most of the room's furnishings. "It's over $100,000," District 59 spokeswoman Betsy Boswell said Wednesday.

A Cook County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman said the agency is not pursuing any charges against Panepucci. The Cook County state's attorney's office also has not authorized any charges in the case. A Hanover Park police spokesman said police are still evaluating the case and charges are pending.

Daily Herald staff writers Madhu Krishnamurthy and Josh Stockinger contributed to this report.

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