GODFREY, Ill. (AP) – A man already awaiting trial for allegedly stealing air conditioning units now faces charges that he fled after accidentally hitting a house with his sport utility vehicle and killing a 73-year-old widower inside the home.

Prosecutors in Madison County charged Jacob Fickle, 24, of Godfrey with failing to report an accident involving personal injury or death.

Investigators say Fickle caused a disturbance Sunday at a Godfrey home and fled in a family member’s GMC Yukon after authorities were called. That SUV then crashed into a nearby home, fatally pinning Marlin Bushnell under the wreckage. The driver then ran from the scene before being arrested a short time later outside a tavern.

Authorities said Bushnell had no connection to Fickle.

Fickle also was charged with two misdemeanor domestic battery counts in connection with the original disturbance, as well as traffic citations for driving with a revoked license and failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident.

Fickle couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. Court records don’t show whether Fickle has an attorney, and he doesn’t have a listed home telephone number.

At the time of the wreck, Fickle faced a trial next month on 10 theft counts related to his alleged stealing of air conditioning units from homes and businesses throughout the area last year.

Bushnell’s 29-year-old daughter, Elaine Maxeiner, also of Godfrey, told the (Alton) Telegraph for a story Wednesday that her father was a retiree and gun collector who worked as an Alton School District bus driver for about a decade, shuttling elementary and middle school students.

“He was always doing stuff for kids; the kids on his bus, he thought of as his own,” she said of her father, who was widowed in 2007. “Kids would just go up to him and sit on his lap. He had that `Grandpa’ kind of thing.”

© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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