Trucker gets 10 years in crash that killed 3 from Urbana

Trucker gets 10 years in crash that killed 3 from Urbana

JOLIET — An Indiana truck driver was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison for causing the deaths of five people, including three members of an Urbana family, on an interstate highway in northern Illinois in 2014.

Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow said 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 in connection with the July 21, 2014, crash in a construction zone.

The crash happened about 2:15 p.m. that day on Interstate 55 near Channahon. Traffic had slowed to between 3 and 5 mph when Espinal-Quiroz entered the construction zone with his cruise control on at 65 mph.

His rig hit a vehicle occupied by Timothy Osburn, 64, his wife, Kimberly Britton, 43, and their daughter, Piper Britton, 11, all of Urbana. They were on their way to a family vacation on the East Coast.

Kimberly and Piper Britton were killed on impact. Mr. Osburn was airlifted to a Chicago hospital, where he died Aug. 6, 2014, from his injuries.

Kimberly Britton was an assistant director of business information systems at the University of Illinois and Piper was in the fifth grade at Yankee Ridge Elementary School in Urbana. Mr. Osburn was a writer.

Two women were also killed in the crash: Ulrike Blopleh, 48, of Channahon, who was a passenger in a mini-van and Vicky Palacios, 54, of Coal City, who was in a car. Three of Ms. Blopleh's children were also injured.

Will County Judge David Carlson sentenced Espinal-Quiroz after a lengthy hearing during which family members of those killed read aloud their victim impact statements.

“I’m so sorry,” Espinal-Quiroz told the families.

"This terrible crash claimed the lives of five innocent people, including a young girl, and injured several others," said 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."

Glasgow said the investigation into the crash 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, Glasgow said.

Under state law, a defendant may earn day-for-day good time in prison for a reckless homicide conviction. He was given credit on his sentence for approximately two years and seven months already served, meaning he’ll have to serve about that much more time before he may be considered for release.

A spokesman for Glasgow’s office said Espinal-Quiroz had no prior criminal convictions.

He was eligible for penalties ranging from probation up to 28 years in prison, but prosecutors agreed to seek no more than a 15-year sentence in return for his guilty plea.

Sections (2):News, Local