Truck Driver Charged with Reckless Homicide Following Fatal Crash

As Trucking Accident Attorneys, we are well aware of the hazards faced by motorists who are forced to share our roadways with truck drivers that operate semi-tractor trailers. Big-rigs are massive, heavy, dangerous vehicles, capable of mass destruction, as was demonstrated by a tragic accident last month that took the lives of five innocent victims. Zneimer & Zneimer P.C., along with the victim’s family, and residents of our community are pleased to see justice being carried out, at least in the criminal sense, following reports of the truck driver’s indictment for reckless homicide.

As provided by the Chicago Tribune, the crash occurred on the afternoon of July 21, 2014, along Interstate 55, south of Arsenal Road, near Elwood. According to authorities, 51-year-old Francisco Espinal Quiroz was operating a semi-truck, when he crashed into three stopped vehicles. Heartbreakingly, four people were killed immediately due to the crash, and fifth victim died later at the hospital.

Amongst the victims killed as a result of the truck driver’s negligence was an 11-year-old child, Piper Britton, of Urbana. The remaining victims, all adults, were 43-year-ol Kimberly Britton, of Urbana; 54-year-old Vicky Palacios, of Coal City; 48-year-old Ulrike Blopleh, of Channahon; and 64-year-old Timothy Osburn, also of Channahon. In addition to the five fatalities, four other victims were hospitalized due to injuries sustained in the crash.

Following the accident, Francisco Espinal-Quiroz, the truck driver responsible for the crash, was arrested, where his bond was set in the amount of $1 million. According to Will County court records, on August 28,2014, the driver was indicted on over a dozen counts extending from the deadly crash, 15 of which fall under 720 ILCS 5/9 3(a), Involuntary Manslaughter and Reckless Homicide, and 2 pursuant to 625 ILCS 5/18b-103, Failure to comply with Motor Carrier Safety

In addition to failing to keep proper lookout, and decrease speed, the indictment alleges that Espinal-Quiroz was speeding in a construction zone. The driver also had physical limitations, including complete loss of vision to his right eye, which prevented Espinal-Quiroz from safely operating a tractor-trailor in a lawful manner. Pursuant to 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10), the physical qualifications regarding visual capacity, as set forth by Federal Motor Carrier Regulations, requires that the truck driver:

“Has distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in each eye without corrective lenses or visual acuity separately corrected to 20/40 (Snellen) or better with corrective lenses, distant binocular acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in both eyes with or without corrective lenses, field of vision of at least 70° in the horizontal Meridian in each eye, and the ability to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red, green, and amber.”

According to reports, the driver had been previously charged with falsifying logbook records pertaining to Hours-of-Service, which the federal government requires for the purpose of discouraging truck drivers from continuing to drive without a break in a manner that exceeds the maximum time limitations set forth by law. Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. recently expressed our concerns over log-book falsification and driver-fatigue in ‘Improving Safety, Preventing Fatigue-Related Accidents, and Ensuring Regulatory Compliance in the Trucking Industry: Electronic Logbooks.’Given the dangers posed to other motorists that share the roadway, we find such offenses appalling, and feel that offenders should be penalized to the maximum extent permitted by law.

According to additional Will County court records, four victims have filed personal injury actions against the truck driver, and his self-owned and operated trucking company, Espinal Trucking. We suspect more claims may follow in the form of Wrongful Death and/or Survival Actions. The attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. send our heartfelt condolences to the victim’s family, friends, and loved ones, as they

If you were injured, or a family member was killed, as a result of trucking accident that occurred in Will County, Cook County, or a neighboring Chicagoland County, we encourage you to contact us, either online or by calling 773-516-4100. We offer FREE consultation in all personal injury and wrongful death matters.