Man pleads guilty in crash that killed 7-year-old girl, unborn baby in South Side

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PITTSBURGH - A man accused of killing a 7-year-old girl and her unborn sibling in a December 2010 crash pleaded guilty Wednesday to homicide by vehicle with driving under the influence, among other charges.

Police said Travis Isiminger, 23, was more than twice the legal limit when he crashed head-on into the car Nicole Cleland was driving along East Carson Street on Dec. 4, 2010.

Cleland’s 7-year-old daughter, Lexa, and her unborn child were killed in the crash. Cleland was also severely injured in the crash.

Authorities said Isiminger was drinking so heavily just before the crash that he was thrown out of the Hofbrauhause in South Side after vomiting.

Isiminger hung his head weeping Wednesday in the courtroom as he pleaded guilty to 13 counts including homicide while DUI. Part of the plea deal was the third-degree murder charge was dropped, officials said.

“She’s a very forgiving person and trying to conduct her life in a manner that honors Lexa,” Cleland family attorney Jack Goodrich said. “He’s going to be punished enough. He has to live with this every day of his life.”

Cleland said to Isiminger, “By faith, I know it’s not my fate to judge you. That’s in God’s hands. I can forgive you.”

Isiminger apologized to the Cleland family saying, “I can never make this right. On behalf of your daughter, I will include a prayer for Lexa and her family every day.”

“There’s no excuses on our end of this,” Isiminger’s attorney Chuck LoPresti said. “We accept full responsibility.”

Both families were emotional in the courtroom and agreed that no one came out victorious. Mark Cleland, Lexa’s father, did have a message for Isiminger.

“It was 508 long days ago that I unfortunately had to learn your name and learn my daughter was dead,” Mark Cleland said. “I will be present at your parole hearings and I hope I still don’t hate you as much as I do today.”

Isiminger was sentenced to serve six to 12 years in prison.

 

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