Local business owner facing felony charge after hit and run at Par-A-Dice Casino

Friday 6th March 2020

EAST PEORIA (WEEK) --A local business owner faces a felony charge from a hit-and-run incident at the Par-A-Dice Casino in January.

In security camera footage obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, a 2012 BMW can be seen hitting a casino staffer in the parking lot of Par-A-Dice.

The alleged driver, Martin Walgenbach, owner of Martini's on Water Street, faces a Class 4 felony for leaving the scene of an accident involving an injury.

It is unclear what kind of injuries she sustained, and if Walgenbach had any contact with her prior to the incident.

Shown in the video, the woman who was hit can be seen being knocked off her feet and rolled over the hood of the car in the incident.

When police arrived at Walgenbach's home in Washburn two hours after the incident, police say he, at first, was not going to tell if he'd been to the Par-A-Dice. Then he denied being involved in a motor vehicle crash while at the casino, Officer Rachel Giffhorn wrote.

East Peoria Deputy Chief Keith McElyea said, "It can be frustrating. Those are far and few between and I would say that, in most of those, the individual always does stop."

The deputy chief said his officer found the same car was parked in Walgenbach's driveway, though they did not observe any damage.

"I would say this one of those cases where we would like to see how it finally ends in court, yes," McElyea said.

"It may not look as bad as what the video shows because maybe it was just an accident. But, the crime occurred when they left," said Jeff Hall, a former prosecutor in Tazewell County and now private attorney.

He sees plenty to question in the video.

"Why'd they stop? And then they accelerated fast," Hall said. "It's tough. The more I see the video, the more it looks like potential targeting."

Walgenbach is due back in Tazewell County court March 16. That's when prosecutors would decide if any additional charges could be filed against him.

Walgenbach did not return a request for comment by 25 News.

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