BELLEVILLE, IL – John Bannister and Daryl Harton were killed over the weekend when a wrong-way driver collided head on with their vehicle on IL Route 15 in Belleville.
Police identified the wrong-way driver as 54-year-old Kevin Helfrich, of New Athens, IL. He survived the crash but is recovering from injuries at a St. Louis hospital and is listed in critical but stable condition.
The St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office had charged Helfrich with one count of Aggravated DUI and two counts of Reckless Homicide. Bond has been set at $750,000.
According to court documents, Helfrich had four previous DUI arrests with his last one currently being prosecuted in St. Clair county. He was driving on a legal license at the time of the wrong-way fatal crash.
Helfrich was arrested in 2001, 2009, 2015 and 2016 on drinking and driving charges. He pleaded guilty to DUI in 2009, but his charges in 2001 and 2015 were reduced because prosecutors didn't have sufficient evidence, according to St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly. Helfrich is currently being prosecuted for his latest DUI arrest which occurred in October of 2016.
When he was arrested in 2016, Helfrich refused a breathalyzer test and his license was suspended. But one month later, a judge reversed that suspension, citing an error in the sworn statement paperwork filed by the Centreville Police Department.
Kelly says his office is working to determine if alcohol played a factor in the wrong-way fatal crash. Helfrich is due back in court for his October DUI charge in late July.