Chesterton Tribune

Boy, 17, waived into adult court to face charges in fatal crash

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A 17-year-old Michigan City boy who police say was driving drunk when he slammed into the rear of a vehicle driven by Beverly Shores cardiologist Morton Arnsdorf, in a crash which killed the 69-year-old physician, has been waived into adult court to face felony charges of operating while intoxicated and reckless homicide.

On Monday, Timothy Russell Hefner was ordered to stand trial in Porter Superior Court. Juvenile Court Magistrate Edward Nemeth also ordered Hefner moved from the Juvenile Detention Center to the Porter County Jail.

The crash occurred at 5:32 p.m. June 9. Hefner was eastbound on U.S. Highway 20 at a high rate of speed, the Porter County Sheriff’s Police said, when he rear ended Arnsdorf as Arnsdorf was slowing his 2007 Saab to turn left onto northbound C.R. 300E. The impact drove Arnsdorf’s Saab across the center line and into the westbound lanes of U.S. 20, police said, where he was struck by an oncoming 2003 Mercury driven by John Merrell, 62, of Portage.

The Saab, with Arnsdorf in it, became engulfed in flames and Arnsdorf was pronounced dead at the scene. Coroner Robert Schulte later said that he believes the collision rendered Arnsdorf immediately unconscious.

Hefner himself was airlifted to a South Bend hospital with unspecified injuries.

On Monday, Nemeth stated that “there is probable cause to believe that said child committed said crimes,” noted that Hefner was 17 at the time of the crash and will turn 18 in December, and further remarked on the “seriousness of the crime”: “allegedly operating a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol, driving at speeds in excess of 80 to 90 miles per hour while weaving in and out of traffic, and causing an accident that resulted in death.”

More to the point, Nemeth found that the alleged “offenses are part of a repetitive and escalating pattern of offenses ranging from status offenses to Class C felonies,” with Hefner’s recording “nine separate referrals with 10 different offenses, with his first referral shortly before his 10th birthday.”

Arrests and subsequent adjudications include criminal mischief, a Class A misdemeanor, in December 2002; and two counts of criminal mischief, a Class D felony, in November 2005, Nemeth stated.

Hefner was also detained in the LaPorte County JDC for two days in August 2005 for battery; 30 days in September 2005 for criminal mischief and criminal trespass; and two days in October 2006 for escape, Nemeth stated.

In addition, Hefner “has not been in school since he was in the ninth grade,” Nemeth stated.

In short, “the child is beyond rehabilitation under the juvenile justice system,” Nemeth concluded.

Hefner is facing 11 total charges in connection with the fatal crash, including four Class C felonies punishable by a term of two to eight years; and three Class D felonies, punishable by a term of six months to three years. Among the felony charges: operating while intoxicated-causing death; reckless homicide; and criminal recklessness.

According to the University of Chicago Medical Center’s website, Arnsdorf was a “nationally known cardiologist” who served as chief of the UC Section of Cardiology for nine years, a master of the American College of Cardiology—an honor bestowed on fewer than 50 cardiologists in the nation—and an “accomplished researcher” whose interests included arrhythmias, hypertension, and atherosclerosis.



Posted 8/17/2010