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Reckless homicide charges against trucker in fatal crash

Francisco Espinal-Quiroz / phofrom Will County Sheriff's office

Francisco Espinal-Quiroz / photo from the Will County Sheriff's office

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Updated: September 30, 2014 6:17AM



Charges have been upgraded to reckless homicide against an Indiana truck driver accused of causing a crash that left five people dead and three others injured last month on Interstate 55 near Channahon.

Francisco Espinal-Quiroz, 51, of Leesburg, Indiana, has been indicted on 15 counts of reckless homicide, according to a statement from the Will County state’s attorney’s office.

Authorities allege Espinal-Quiroz was speeding through a construction zone northbound on I-55 at Arsenal Road near Channahon on the afternoon of July 21 when he abruptly changed lanes, causing a chain-reaction crash involving two cars and a van.

Five people were killed in the crash, including Piper Britton, 11; and Kimberly K. Britton, 43, both of Urbana; Vicky L. Palacios, 54, of Coal City; and Urlike P. Blopleh, 48, of Channahon.

They were pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Will County coroner’s office. A fifth person, Timothy Osburn, 64, of Urbana, died at Loyola Medical Center on Aug. 6, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

The son of one of the deceased, Vicky Palacios, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Quiroz and Espinal Trucking, the freight company he was driving for, in Cook County Circuit Court in early August.

Quiroz had already been charged with felonies for false reporting of driving records and failure to maintain record of duty status, and cited for failure to reduce speed to prevent an accident, authorities said.

The new indictments allege he sped through a construction zone; failed to keep proper lookout for vehicles stopping or slowing; failed to decrease speed; and had physical conditions that limited his ability to drive safely, including loss of vision in one eye due to a 1984 injury, prosecutors said.

He remains in the Will County Jail on a $1 million bail, and is scheduled to appear for arraignment Sept. 9.

The crash remains under investigation by Illinois State Police and the state’s attorney’s office.



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