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updated: 5/22/2014 4:16 PM

11 years for 2012 fatal Elgin crash that sparked overnight search

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  • Shannon Hill

      Shannon Hill

 
 

A 19-year-old from Elgin was sentenced to 11 years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to causing a crash in September 2012 in Burlington Township that killed his passenger friend and sparked an overnight helicopter search for survivors.

Shannon Hill, of the 0-99 block of Poplar Creek Drive, pleaded guilty to felony reckless homicide and failure to give information after a fatal crash, according to his attorney and Kane County court records.

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Hill was behind the wheel of a Lincoln sport utility vehicle Sept. 2, 2012, when he lost control while westbound on Plank Road, west of Engel Road, and rolled the vehicle, authorities said.

Passenger Lawrence Echols, 17, of Elgin, died at the scene; passenger Shadondre Smith of South Elgin also was injured.

"He considered (Echols) a brother and he did feel responsible for his brother's death," said Hill's defense attorney, Richard Irvin. "(Hill) wanted to accept responsibility."

Hill and another passenger left on foot and walked several miles to then-Sherman Hospital in Elgin while K-9 units and a helicopter searched for survivors.

Authorities charged Hill in March 2013 with aggravated DUI, accusing him of having marijuana in his system at the time of the crash.

Other charges included improper lane use, driving under the influence of drugs, and speeding 40 mph over the limit.

Under the plea agreement approved by Judge John Barsanti, prosecutors dismissed those charges, including the aggravated DUI charge, which carried up to a 14-year prison term.

Hill must pay $12,800 in restitution to cover the costs of Echols' burial. "This is a terrible thing all around," Irvin said. "Mr. Hill turned 19 years old while he was in jail. He's got an 11-year sentence in prison and one of his best friends is dead. It was a senseless incident. Everybody loses here."

Under state law, Hill can have his sentence cut in half for good behavior while in prison.

He also gets credit for 355 spent in the Kane County jail while the case was pending, meaning he can be released in about 4½ years.

Hill also is being sued by relatives of Echols and Smith.

The lawsuits, which seek unspecified damages, are next due in court July 22.

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