A former Naperville dentist accused of causing a head-on crash on I-88 that killed two people suffers from a degenerative genetic disease that might have influenced his actions the night of the collision, his attorney said Tuesday.
William A. Howe, 43, has Huntington’s Disease, an incurable illness that causes progressively more severe mental and physical problems, defense attorney John Curnyn said.
“It may have contributed to the cause of this event,” Curnyn said after a scheduled DuPage County court appearance Howe missed because he remains hospitalized after the crash.
Howe faces reckless homicide charges stemming from the Aug. 6 wrong-way crash on I-88 near Lisle when he allegedly veered his Porsche convertible into oncoming traffic, striking another car head-on.
DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said Howe’s illness won’t prevent him from being prosecuted for the crash, though Berlin declined to discuss specifics of the case.
“We are still going forward with our case,” Berlin said.
Killed in the crash were two Elmhurst residents: Farzana Ali, 38, and her father, Sher Ali Shalwani, 75, who were on their way to a prayer service, authorities said. Farzana Ali’s husband was critically injured in the collision and remains hospitalized.
Witnesses told police they saw Howe throwing cash out of his car shortly before the 6:30 p.m. crash.
Howe was diagnosed with the illness about two years ago, Curnyn said, and his condition has deteriorated since then.
He raised concerns that Howe may not be mentally fit to ever face charges for the crash.
“I have a concern about his psychological state at the time of the car crash,” Curnyn said, adding the progression of the disease was a factor in Howe closing his Aurora dental office more than a year ago.
Howe remains hospitalized at the Loyola University Medical Center for leg and hip fractures he suffered in the crash, Curnyn said.
DuPage County prosecutors couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.