Friends remember I-55 accident victim

Friends remember I-55 accident victim


URBANA — An Urbana man who died from injuries he received in the same accident that killed his wife and daughter about two weeks ago is being remembered as a dedicated family man, a happy co-worker and a great neighbor.

Timothy Osburn, 64, who lived on G.H. Baker Drive, died Wednesday evening at a hospital in the Chicago suburb of Maywood. He was taken there July 21 in critical condition following a multiple-vehicle chain reaction crash on Interstate 55 near Elwood.

His family was en route to a Chicago airport that Monday afternoon to fly to New Hampshire to vacation with his wife’s family. They were stopped in a construction zone when their vehicle was hit by a speeding semitrailer tractor truck driver who was changing lanes.

The collision immediately killed his wife, Kimberly Britton, 43, and their daughter, Piper Britton, 11. Also killed were Vicky L. Palacios, 54, of Coal City and Urlike P. Blopleh, 48, of Channahon.

Ms. Britton was assistant director of business information systems at the University of Illinois. Piper was a fifth-grader at Yankee Ridge Elementary school.

“He was such a devoted husband and father. Every conversation I had with him, he brought his wife and daughter into it,” said Tammy Hoggatt, director of human resources for the Champaign Park District. “I think they were his hobby.”

Mr. Osburn worked as an assistant information technology specialist for the district from March 2007 to July 2012, when his position was eliminated.

“It just killed us because he was this incredibly nice guy,” Hoggatt said. “He would come back and visit. He never had any hard feelings. He would just be his happy, smiley self.”

“He was very reliable, always willing to help within his abilities,” said John Olden, who supervised Mr. Osburn at the park district. “If something was beyond his abilities, he was never afraid to ask for help.”

Both Hoggatt and Olden said Mr. Osburn was very proud of all his children. He had two older adult children, Paige and Joel Osburn, in addition to Piper.

Hoggatt said her son, like Piper Britton, was diagnosed as having Asperger’s, a form of autism, and that she and Mr. Osburn talked frequently about that. 

“He had great concern for her. He wanted the absolute best for her,” said Hoggatt, who said she tried to encourage Mr. Osburn by sharing experiences and challenges that her son had overcome.

Another park district co-worker, Melissa Place, said Mr. Osburn “definitely loved a potluck” and was well-versed in a number of areas.

“He was a guy you could have a conversation with about anything. He loved to talk about history, politics, books. We would share the same books,” she said. “From my own personal interactions with him, he was big on detail. Whenever he told a story, he always knew when it happened, where it happened and who was present. He just always told a story full of details.”

Olden said his co-worker of five years enjoyed telling stories and was “always positive and had good things to say.”

Although the two men hadn’t been in frequent contact lately — they emailed each other occasionally — Olden said it was his impression that Mr. Osburn was enjoying being a stay-at-home dad. His friend also liked to read and wrote poetry, Olden said.

Mr. Osburn’s neighbor, Bill Campo, has lived across the street from the family for 11 years and often shot the breeze with Mr. Osburn when they’d be outdoors. 

“I knew what he was up to and he knew what we were up to. He was an interesting guy. He always had interesting stories. He was always walking his dog, a little tiny mutt,” said Campo, who added he and his wife are still in shock over the loss of the entire family.

“They were excited about taking off for a week or so. It’s hard to believe they’re not there anymore,” Campo said.

The couple married in May 1999.


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