Drunken driver who killed woman in 2017 to be sentenced Monday – maybe

Former Milledgeville man seeking a fourth delay, still citing ongoing medical treatment

Douglas M. Strehlow

MORRISON – The man who drove drunk and killed a Sterling woman more than six years ago is set to be sentenced Monday – unless the judge grants his request to reschedule a fourth time because of ongoing medical treatment.

Douglas M. Strehlow, formerly of Milledgeville but now of Sterling, pleaded guilty Nov. 22 to aggravated DUI resulting in death. He faces three to 14 years in prison and must serve 85% of his sentence.

Strehlow was traveling south on Route 40 in rural Sterling, just north of Fulfs Road, about 2:40 a.m. Aug. 19, 2017. His blood-alcohol concentration was almost three times the legal limit when his pickup hit a car almost head-on.

That driver, Summer D. Harmon, 40, died three days later.

According to Whiteside County Court records, Strehlow was to be sentenced March 10, but he had back surgery March 1, and on March 8, that hearing was moved to June 7.

On June 7, he was in the hospital, so his sentencing was put off, and a hearing on the status of the case was set for July 28.

On July 28, his attorney, Louis F. Pignatelli of Rock Falls, asked Judge Trish Senneff for another continuance, citing Strehlow’s upcoming back therapy appointments.

Senneff said that without documentation from Strehlow’s doctor that a sentencing hearing would impair his health, he would be sentenced Monday, Sept. 25.

On Sept. 8, Pignatelli filed a motion seeking a 60-day continuance, again citing upcoming therapy and other medical appointments. He amended that motion Thursday to include more details on Strehlow’s injury and timeline of care.

He still seeks a 60-day continuance, court records show.

As of Friday, Senneff had not ruled on the request. That means Strehlow must appear in court at 9 a.m. Monday, at which point he might be sentenced or he might be granted his fourth continuance.

Strehlow was arrested June 2, 2018, and held on $500,000 bond. That was reduced to $300,000 on Sept. 28, 2018, and two years later, on Sept. 4, 2020, he posted $30,000 and was freed pending sentencing.

A civil suit accusing him and two of the bars that served him of Harmon’s wrongful death still is proceeding; a case management conference is set for Oct. 2.

Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.