Minimum sentence on DUI for man involved in CBS reporter's death

WOODSTOCK – In a letter of support, the widow of CBS-2 reporter Randy Salerno wrote that she has forgiven the man involved in the 2008 crash that killed her husband.

Irene Salerno’s letter was one of nearly 20 introduced at a sentencing hearing Friday for Scott Hirschey, who previously had previously had pleaded guilty to aggravated DUI.

In her letter, Irene Salerno said she had forgiven Hirschey for his role in the fatal snowmobile crash that killed 45-year-old Randy Salerno. He was killed after riding on the back of a snowmobile driven by Hirschey, who was drunk, lost control and crashed in Eagle River, Wis., a far northern town popular among snowmobile riders.

Irene Salerno also supported Hirschey when he was sentenced in 2009 to probation for his role in the crash. At the time, she asked the Wisconsin judge for leniency on her late husband’s childhood friend.

“A part of Scott also died that fateful night, and he is forever scarred,” Irene Salerno’s latest letter read. “However, Scott is learning to forgive himself and not punish himself by succumbing to his alcohol addiction. Scott now has the tools he so desperately needed to survive a tragedy that killed a man who meant the world to so many.”

At least 20 people gathered in the courtroom to support Hirschey, who also said he had been attending and now leading support groups for alcoholics.

Hirschey in March pleaded guilty to a 2012 aggravated driving under the influence charge. His plea was accepted by McHenry County Judge Gordon Graham, and on Friday the judge sentenced Hirschey to the minimum sentence, or two years in prison.

The judge noted Hirschey’s limited criminal history and sobriety, but of the snowmobile crash, he said: “You’re never going to outlive that.”

Hirschey was fresh off the probation he received for the 2008 crash when he was arrested for driving under the influence in Crystal Lake.

Police found an open can of Miller Lite in Hirschey’s center console and he blew 0.142 when he was arrested in Crystal Lake, Assistant State’s Attorney David Metnick said.

Defense attorney Matthew Haiduk called Hirschey’s DUI arrest “garden variety” and has argued that it should have remained a misdemeanor. The DUI was elevated to a felony shortly after Hirschey’s arrest.

At CBS, Randy Salerno, also of Crystal Lake, was a morning news anchor.

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