Wisconsin man pleads guilty in crash that killed Island Lake boy

A Wisconsin man accused of killing a 10-year-old boy in a horrible crash near Lake Zurich in 2011 pleaded guilty Tuesday in Lake County Court to one count of reckless homicide.

Matthew Loiacano, 30, of Kansasville, Wis., will spend the next two months in periodic imprisonment at Lake County jail, then nine additional months on home confinement after he agreed to plead guilty in front of Lake County Judge Christopher Stride.

Loiacano also must serve 30 months probation for his role in the crash, pay a $1,250 fine, and perform 200 hours of community service. Stride also ordered Loiacano to attend a victim impact panel and not use drugs or alcohol while on probation.

Initially, Loiacano was intent to go to trial, claiming he was not behind the wheel of the extra large, heavy duty pickup truck that drove through a red light on Dec. 12, 2011 and struck the side of the Lincoln sedan carrying Griffin Shirey, his twin, brother, Nicholas, and their father, Scott Shirey.

However, Lake County State's Attorney Ken LaRue said Loiacano and two other men inside the pickup truck had signed police statements and confessed on video saying Loiacano was the driver.

In the end, Loiacano took the negotiated plea deal for minimal jail time rather than risk spending up to five years behind bars.

“He made a one-hour confession to police saying he was the driver of the pickup,” LaRue said after court. “Up until six months ago, (Loiacano) never said anything about not being the driver. But, six months ago, he decided to tell everyone that he wasn't driving.”

Loiacano, his mother, and his attorney Lawrence Wade, would not comment following the hearing.

Authorities said Loiacano was not wearing his seat belt and was leaning over for some gum when he drove through the red light at Route 12 and Old McHenry Road and into the side of the sedan driven by Scott Shirey.

The force of the crash instantly killed Griffin Shirey, LaRue said, and seriously injured his brother.

Nicholas Shirey has since physically recovered from the crash, but his mother, Britt Steinhoff, said the boy is emotionally scarred due to the loss of his brother.

“He has his good days and his bad days,” she said. “They weren't just brothers. They were twins and best friends.”

Scott Shirey, 50, of the 3300 block of Concordia Drive in Island Lake, pleaded guilty in October to a single count of aggravated driving under the influence of cannabis for his role in the crash. LaRue said cannabis was found in Scott Shirey's blood during a blood test following the accident. He accepted a plea agreement, and will serve another 27 months on probation.

Steinhoff said she will try to put the death of her child behind her, but hopes this tragedy will weigh on the hearts of anyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle.

“I'm glad it's over,” Steinhoff said as she choked back tears. “Nothing would have brought Griffin back. I just hope that people think about this when driving. Lives can be destroyed in a second.”

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Griffin Shirey
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