Second lawsuit filed against trucker in fatal I-55 crash

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | Friday, August 29, 2014

The husband of a woman who was killed in five-person fatality crash in July on Interstate 55 near Chicago has become the second person to file a wrongful death suit against the truck driver who police say caused the crash.

Moses Blopleh, the husband of victim Ulrike Blopleh, filed the lawsuit Thursday with the Will County Circuit Clerk on behalf of his children, who also were in the car and injured in the crash, according to a report in the Joliet Herald-News.

According to a grand jury indictment filed on Aug.13, the driver of the tractor-trailer, 51-year-old Francisco Espinal-Quiroz, of Leesburg, Ind., faces 15 felony counts of reckless homicide stemming from the crash, as well as one count each of failure to maintain record of duty status and false recording of a commercial driver record of duty status.

The indictment states that on the day of the crash, Espinal-Quiroz was driving his tractor trailer at 65 mph in a 55 mph zone, when he struck a green Kia, setting off a chain reaction crash that led to five deaths. The reckless homicide charges allege that Espinal-Quiroz was driving too fast for conditions, failed to keep proper lookout for stopped or slowing vehicles, and that he has physical conditions that limit his ability to drive safely.

The physical condition in question is complete vision loss in his right eye, according to a 2006 exemption application on file with the Office of the Federal Register.

The application states that Espinal-Quiroz has “complete vision loss in his right eye” due to a traumatic injury sustained in 1984. At the time the application was filed, Espinal-Quiroz reported that he had driven straight trucks for 14 years, accumulating 266,000 miles, and tractor-trailer combinations for seven years, accumulating 21,000 miles. At that time, he held a chauffeur’s license in Indiana.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revoked the operating authority of Espinal-Quiroz and his trucking company following the crash, after investigators were denied access to records requested for investigative purposes following the July 21 crash.

Criminal prosecutors charged Espinal-Quiroz with falsifying a logbook, willful violation of a logbook, and failure to reduce speed in a construction zone.

Vicky L. Palaciocs, 54, was another victim. On Aug. 8, her son filed a wrongful death suit in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of his mother.

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