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Crime & Courts

Family of woman killed in high-speed Wheaton crash sues estate of Brian Thunderkick

Thunderkick died by suicide in February

The family of Erika Villagomez, 23, of Elgin, who was killed in a high-speed crash in September 2017 on Butterfield Road in Wheaton, is suing the estate of Brian Thunderkick, 62, of the 2S600 block of Pierre Curie Lane, Warrenville, who was charged in the crash.
The family of Erika Villagomez, 23, of Elgin, who was killed in a high-speed crash in September 2017 on Butterfield Road in Wheaton, is suing the estate of Brian Thunderkick, 62, of the 2S600 block of Pierre Curie Lane, Warrenville, who was charged in the crash.

WHEATON – The family of an Elgin woman who was killed in a high-speed crash last year on Butterfield Road in Wheaton is suing the estate of the man charged in that crash.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed May 22 in Kane County. A case management conference on the suit is set for Aug. 8.

Brian Thunderkick, 62, of the 2S600 block of Pierre Curie Lane, Warrenville, had been charged in the crash that killed Erika Villagomez, 23, in September 2017.

Thunderkick had been formally indicted on charges of reckless homicide, attempting to leave the scene of an accident resulting in personal injury or death, and aggravated battery in a public place after he allegedly crashed his vehicle into the back of Villagomez’s car while traveling at 135 mph, authorities said.

On Feb. 22, Warrenville police found the bodies of Thunderkick and his ex-wife, Laura Arns, also 62, in the condominium they shared while assisting Wheaton detectives in serving Thunderkick with an arrest warrant after he missed a court appearance that day.

Thunderkick and Arns died by suicide, according to the DuPage County Coroner's Office.

At about 11 a.m. Sept. 30, 2017, Wheaton police responded to the fatal crash just east of Naperville Road, finding the victim’s Honda Accord completely engulfed in flames.

Thunderkick was held in the DuPage County Jail until he was released in October 2017 after posting 10 percent of a $150,000 bond. DuPage County Judge George Bakalis had scheduled a March 29 hearing to decide whether he would have to forfeit his bond.

Prosecutors on Oct. 4, 2017, filed a petition to increase his bond to $2 million in light of new information in the case, including that Thunderkick was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 1973. Bakalis denied the motion Oct. 11.

Thunderkick pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Nov. 6, 2017.

An off-duty River Grove police officer who witnessed the collision said Thunderkick traveled at an extremely high rate of speed on the shoulder, crossed in the left lane of westbound Butterfield Road and rear-ended the victim's car, according to the petition.

Following the crash, Thunderkick was transported to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, where his urine tested positive for barbiturates, the petition stated. Barbiturates are central nervous system depressants that can be used to treat insomnia, epilepsy and other conditions, according to Mayo Clinic.

The "black box" in Thunderkick's car indicated his black Camaro was traveling at 135 mph before it hit the victim's car. While being interviewed by Wheaton police Oct. 1, 2017, Thunderkick allegedly said "he wanted to open it up," according to the petition.

"The defendant admitted that he was driving recklessly and that he had his gas pedal 'all the way down,' " the petition stated.

Thunderkick also allegedly shoved a woman trying to give him aid after the crash and prevent him from leaving the scene.

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