Truck Driver Held on $1M Bail in Fatal I-55 Chain Reaction Crash

Four killed, four injured in chain-reaction crash in Elwood

The driver of a tractor-trailer involved in a multi-vehicle crash that left four people dead and four others injured was charged early Tuesday and ordered held on $1 million bail.

Francisco Espinal-Quiroz, 51, of Leesburg, Indiana, was charged with falsifying a log book and willful violation of a log book. Prosecutors say Espinal-Quiroz stated that he started work around 6-6:30 a.m., when in realty he had started work at about 2:30 a.m. He was also cited for failing to reduce speed.

Illinois State Police officials said Espinal-Quiroz was going faster than the posted construction site speed limit when he slammed into car and caused a chain reaction crash involving three vehicles and another tractor-trailer.

In court Tuesday, officials said Espinal-Quiroz has a history of traffic violations dating back 1991, at least three of which were for speeding.

Records show that since 1991, Espinal-Quiroz has also been cited for driving with a a license in his possession, disregarding a traffic control device, driving without a valid license for the type of vehicle he was operating and six other commercial vehicle violations.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records on Espinal Trucking, of which Espinal-Quiroz is the sole employee, show a virtually unblemished safety record. He has been operating in interstate commerce since the fall of 2012, and records show just one inspection during that time.

Gov. Pat Quinn says he wants to look at the construction project on I-55 which has seen four accidents in recent months.

"I am going to our Department of Transportation look at every single part of that project to make sure we accelerate everything we can to improve safety," Quinn said.

Kimberly K. Britton, 43, and Piper Britton, both from Urbana, were killed in the chain reaction crash. Also killed were Vicky L. Palacios, 54, of Coal City and Ulrike P. Blopleh, 48, of Channahon.

Four other people were injured in the crash, including some who needed to be extricated from their vehicles. One of the victims was airlifted to a local hospital.

Another truck driver, Deividas Mockus, 41, of Darien, was killed in a second crash moments after the first crash and about three miles away.

The stretch of I-55 where Monday's two fatal accidents occurred has been the scene of several accidents over the past couple of years.

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