Driver gets probation for 2011 fatal crash near Lake Zurich
Britt Steinhoff’s twin boys were championship swimmers who played together, laughed together and cared for their goldfish. The Island Lake woman envisioned her twins arguing over a car when they both turned 16.
She will never see that happen because the twins were torn apart forever in a fatal car crash that took the life of Griffin Shirey, 10. His twin, Nicholas, survived and has recovered from injuries suffered in crash Dec. 12, 2011.
“In a second, my Griffin was taken and Nick was in the hospital. The pain is indescribable,” Steinhoff said.
Matthew Loiacano of Wisconsin pleaded guilty to one count of reckless homicide for the crash. Loiacano, 30, formerly of Antioch, could have spent up to five years in prison, according to prosecutors Robert Money and Ken LaRue.
Instead, Loiacano will spend 30 months on probation, 12 months in periodic imprisonment and perform 200 hours of public service. His driver’s license also will be revoked.
He was to go on trial Tuesday in Lake County Circuit Court but took the plea deal instead through his attorney, Lawrence Wade.
The twins were in the back seat of a vehicle driven by their father, Scott Shirey, who was southbound on U.S. 12 making a left turn onto Old McHenry Road during rush hour. Loiacano was reaching for gum while driving a 9-ton truck. He was 45 feet away from the red light but failed to stop, hitting Shirey’s Lincoln Continental, LaRue said.
“It’s hard to imagine a situation more heart-breaking than this for the young boy’s family, for his mom, dad, his twin brother. It just doesn’t get sadder than this,” Judge Christopher Stride said.
Steinhoff read a victim impact statement during a hearing Tuesday talking about her son. When she was finished, she accepted a hug from Loiacano’s mother, who was also present at the hearing.
Stride noted that hug and called Steinhoff a woman of compassion.
“It’s a blessing dealing with a woman like (Steinhoff). These are gifts I hope you (Loiacano) recognize that and put this behind you in a way that’s healthy,” Stride said.
Steinhoff said after the hearing that she hoped this crash taught people to be honest about their actions. She said it was her understanding that the three people inside the truck at the time blamed each other.
Wade had planned to present evidence that another driver, who had three prior DUIs, was driving the truck the night of the crash.
“The most horrifying aspect ... is they pointed fingers at each other,” Steinhoff said. “I am glad it’s over. Nothing would bring Griffin back. I just hope people think about this and think when they’re driving and think about the lives that can be destroyed.”
The twins’ father, Shirey, 50, was driving under the influence of cannabis. He pleaded guilty to aggravated DUI in October and sentenced to probation.
Loiacano will serve three months of his periodic imprisonment beginning Monday, then be placed on electronic home monitoring, LaRue said.