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Man pleads guilty in 2021 street racing crash that killed 6-year-old boy

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — A man has pleaded guilty in a street racing crash that killed a 6-year-old boy in June 2021. In court Monday, Donnie Cobb apologized to the family of Liam Lagunas.

In September, Gracie Eaves also pleaded guilty during her court hearing.

The little boy’s mother was at both hearings as she tries to cope with the loss of her son in the fiery crash in Gaston County.

Investigators said one of the vehicles lost control while Eaves and Cobb were racing along Highway 74 and struck the family’s car. The two vehicles reached 100 mph during the race, troopers said.

Cobb’s attorney said he didn’t want to put Lagunas’ family through a trial, and that’s why he took the plea and apologized.

“I just want to tell the family I’m sorry. I never meant for it to happen,” Cobb said.

Cobb pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and DWI, making this his fourth DWI conviction. The district attorney said Cobb had amphetamines in his system during the racing crash.

“I just (keep) thinking this can’t be real. This can’t be right. He was such a good kid,” Lagunas’ mother, Brandy Birrittier, said. “What these two people did that night took that away. They took away his whole life, his future. It’s beyond torture.”

In September, Birrittier told Channel 9 that she goes to the accident scene every couple of weeks. There’s a memorial there along the side of the highway for her son. They’ve even put lights out so people passing by at night will remember what happened.

Inside Birrittier’s home, photos of Lagunas fill one of the rooms. There are dozens of them there that capture her son’s smile, and his love for soccer and the beach.

“He could make a bad day great. He was kind to everybody. One of his favorite things to say was, ‘Share the love,’” Birrittier said.

All of that ended when Cobb’s car crossed the median, slamming into Lagunas’ father’s car and killing the 6-year old.

Fifteen months after the crash, Eaves pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. She apologized before being sentenced to more than three years of prison time.

Nearly a month after Eaves’ sentencing, Cobb took an Alford plea, which means he maintains his innocence, while admitting that prosecutors have enough evidence to show, without a reasonable doubt, that he is guilty. Cobb was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

“Liam was only 6, he had his whole life to live,” Birrittier said. “Every day is hard for me and my whole family. He didn’t deserve it. He didn’t deserve it. He was innocent.”

The family hopes others think twice about the dangers of speeding.

“We want people to, when they pass it, think about Liam and think about other people,” Birrittier said.

(WATCH BELOW: Newly released 911 calls give clearer picture of street racing crash that killed 6-year-old boy)