Indiana trucker sentenced to 10 years for wreck that claimed five lives

February 16

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announces that a truck driver who caused a wreck that killed five people in 2014 has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Francisco Espinal-Quiroz, 53, of Leesburg, Ind., pleaded guilty in November to five counts of reckless homicide and one count of falsifying the record of his driving status. Judge David Carlson handed down the sentence on Thursday afternoon after a lengthy hearing during which family members of the deceased read poignant statements about their loved ones into the record.

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.

“This terrible crash claimed the lives of five innocent people, including a young girl, and injured several others,” said State’s Attorney Glasgow. “The victim impact statements presented in court at sentencing conveyed the heartbreaking loss family members experienced when this wreck tore their loved ones from their lives. Our hearts go out to all of the victims and families who are struggling with their profound grief.”

State’s Attorney Glasgow thanked the Illinois State Police and Assistant State’s Attorneys Derek Ewanic and Adam Capelli for their work to bring justice to family members during the investigation and prosecution of this case. 

The investigation revealed 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 he started his work day later, at 6:15 a.m. Espinal-Quiroz also is blind in his right eye, but he had a waiver to drive a truck through the state of Indiana.