Indiana trucker pleads guilty to causing 2014 wreck that claimed five lives

November 15

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announces that a truck driver who caused a wreck that killed five people in 2014 pleaded guilty on Tuesday to five counts of reckless homicide and one count of falsifying the record of his driving status.

Francisco Espinal-Quiroz, 53, of Leesburg, Ind., entered a blind plea late Tuesday morning. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Circuit Judge David Carlson on Feb. 15. Espinal-Quiroz faces between six and 28 years in prison.

The defendant was driving a red Freightliner Semi Tractor northbound on Interstate 55 near Channahon at about 2:15 p.m. on July 21, 2014 when he entered a construction zone in which traffic had slowed to between 3-5 mph. Espinal-Quiroz, however, had set his cruise control and was traveling at 65 mph when he entered the construction zone, eventually striking a 2012 Kia Soul occupied by Kimberly Britton, 43, Piper Britton, 11, and Timothy Osburn, 64. Kimberly and Piper were killed on impact, while Mr. Osburn was airlifted to a Chicago hospital where he died 16 days later.

Also killed in the crash were Ulrike Blopleh, 48, who was a passenger in a 2000 Chevrolet Astrovan, and Vicky Palacios, 54, who was in a 2008 Dodge Avenger. Both vehicles were struck by the defendant’s truck.

The investigation revealed that the defendant had started his work day at 2:30 a.m. picking up steel at a warehouse in South Bend, Ind. His log book, however, falsely stated that he started his work day later, at 6:15 a.m. Espinal-Quiroz also is blind in his right eye, but had a waiver to drive a truck through the state of Indiana.

“This was a horrific crash that claimed the lives of five innocent people, including a young girl, and injured several others,” said State’s Attorney Glasgow. “Our hearts go out to all of the victims and their families who are suffering such a tragic loss.”