Crime & Courts

Island Lake man sentenced to 9 years in prison for DUI

Michael E. Smith, 51, of the 3500 block of Southport Drive, Island Lake
Michael E. Smith, 51, of the 3500 block of Southport Drive, Island Lake

An Island Lake man was resentenced Friday to nine years in prison, shaving three years off a previous sentence for a drunken driving crash that injured two teens after the car they were in was struck.

Michael E. Smith, 51, was convicted of multiple counts of aggravated driving under the influence, which were merged. Under Truth-in-Sentencing guidelines, he must serve 85% of his sentence.

The charges stem from a Nov. 11, 2014, crash when Smith left the Twisted Moose Bar in McHenry and drove his Ford Ranger into the wrong lane of traffic on River Road near McHenry, striking a Dodge Neon that was carrying four teenage passengers.

The crash left one of them, Jarett Wolff, in a coma for three weeks.

Smith pleaded guilty to four separate counts of that charge, which carried different penalties based on the language of the specific charge.

On Feb. 9, Smith was sentenced to 12 years in prison for aggravated DUI.

Now-retired McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather initially ordered Smith to serve two six-year sentences, one after the other, for two of the DUI charges. Days later, Prather vacated the sentence, claiming they couldn’t be served consecutively as she previously had ordered because the charges allege the same crime, Smith’s attorney Jed Stone wrote in an April 5 court filing.

Attorneys argued Friday whether Smith should receive a six- or 12-year sentence.

Giving their victim impact statements Friday, the Wolff family talked about how hard it has been for them since the crash occurred.

Jarett's parents, Kim and William, said Jarett Wolff's dream was to join the Marines.

William Wolff said "all hopes" of that are "now gone" because of the actions of one person who chose to drive drunk.

"[Smith] took away my son's future," William Wolff said, adding that Jarett Wolff is "confused [and] frustrated every day of his life."

William Wolff said he wanted to see Smith punished to the full extent of the law and make sure he never drives again.

Kim Wolff said she didn't know whether her son would live or die after the crash.

"I pleaded with God to take me instead," she said.

At first, Kim Wolff said she prayed for the drunken driver who caused the crash. Then, when she learned he was a repeat offender, she said it made her "sick to her stomach."

She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because of the trauma she experienced after the crash.

Smith's friends and family also testified, saying he has taken steps to rehabilitate himself and had completely stopped driving after the crash. They also said he felt "great remorse" about what happened.

One of his friends, David Finlay, said Smith has told him that the crash will "haunt him until the day he dies."

Speaking in court, Smith said he would do anything to change what happened, and that he will live with the torture for the rest of his life. Smith plans to appeal the sentence, Stone said Friday.

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