JOLIET – The Indiana driver accused in Monday’s fatal Interstate 55 crash has a history of traffic violations dating back to 1991, including three speeding tickets since 2012.
Outside of the charges he faces in connection with Monday’s collision in an I-55 construction zone near the Des Plaines River Bridge, Francisco Espinal-Quiroz’s most recent offense was a speeding ticket last summer, according to records obtained from the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
The 51-year-old driver from Leesburg, Indiana, has been convicted of several traffic violations in multiple states, most of which were in Indiana. Those violations include driving a commercial vehicle in 2006 without a proper license and disobeying a traffic signal in 2009 while driving a commercial vehicle.
Espinal-Quiroz has had 11 traffic violations since 2005, in addition to one in 1991. He has five commercial vehicle violations, although details on each of those were not immediately available. He was also cited in 2011 for driving an overweight truck.
Killed in Monday’s crash were Kimberly K. Britton, 43, and Piper Britton, 11, of Urbana, along with Vicky L. Palaciocs, 54, of Coal City and Ulrike P. Blopleh, 48, of Channahon. The company Espinal-Quiroz was driving for at the time was Espinal Trucking, based in Leesburg, Indiana.
Investigators have said Espinal-Quiroz falsified entries in his logbook to make it appear he was behind the wheel for a shorter period of time than allowed by federal law. He told officers at the scene he started work at 2:30 a.m. Monday, instead of 6:30 a.m., as indicated in his logbook.
The collision occurred at 2:17 p.m. Monday. Authorities said Espinal-Quiroz was driving 15 mph over the speed limit posted at the I-55 construction site when he slammed into the vehicles.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Espinal-Quiroz remains in the Will County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bond. Following the incident, he was charged with two class 4 felonies that included falsifying a log book and failing to maintain a log book. Police also cited Espinal-Quiroz for failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident.
Assistant Will County State’s Attorney Jim Long said other charges, including reckless homicide, are a possibility as state police continue to investigate the crash.
Long said Tuesday during a bond court hearing Espinal-Quiroz has a disability handicap relating to his vision, which may have been a factor in the crash. Long said that reckless homicide that occurs in a work zone and results in two or more fatalities carries a sentence of 6 to 28 years.
Falsifying a logbook and a failing to maintain logbook records carries a sentence of one to three years in prison, with probation being an option, said Charles Pelkie, spokesman for the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Still, Pelkie said state police are in the early stage of their investigation, so more charges are possible.
“We’re waiting for all kinds of information to come. We’re waiting for medical reports to come in. We’re waiting for an accident reconstruction report to come in,” Pelkie said Tuesday outside the Will County Courthouse. “We’re waiting on records with regard to his drop-offs and his pick-ups on the day of the collision. There’s a lot of information that still needs to come in.”