The driver of a semi-truck that hit three stopped vehicles on Interstate 55 Monday afternoon, killing four people and injuring four others, is due in bond court today, state police said this morning.
The truck crashed into three vehicles which were stopped in traffic at 2:17 p.m. Monday, Illinois State Police said Monday evening. Four people in the stopped vehicles, which were south of Arsenal Road near Elwood, were killed.
Authorities said the four killed were Ulrike P. Blopleh, 48, of Channahon; Vicky L. Palacios, 54, of Coal City; Kimberly K. Britton, 43, of Urbana; and Piper Britton, 11, also of Urbana.
Four other people were taken to local hospitals after the crash. Their conditions were not immediately released.
The 51-year-old driver of the semi truck is in custody and scheduled to appear in bond court today on felony log book violation charges, according to Illinois State Police.
Francisco Espinal-Quiroz, of Leesburg, Ind, is charged with keeping a false log book and willfully entering false information, Sgt. Chris Wilkes of ISP said.
Espinal-Quiroz was driving for Leesburg-based Espinal Trucking, according to a state police spokeswoman. Federal records indicate that the company is a one-truck, one-driver operation owned by Espinal-Quiroz. The company has no history of crashes, records show. The carrier has been subjected to just one driver inspection and has no federal safety rating.
The truck driver also underwent mandatory blood and urine testing for drugs and alcohol, state police district commander Randy Ness said in a news conference Monday night. Those tests are mandated by law any time a fatal crash occurs involving commercial motor vehicles, Ness said.
In photographs of the crash, some of the vehicles involved were crushed beyond recognition. The three vehicles were stopped in traffic, less than a mile to the south of where the interstate's two lanes merge to one in a construction zone, police said.
The truck was passing vehicles in the left lane and abruptly made a lane change, striking the rear of one of the vehicles, "pushing them all together in the crash," Ness said.
"Witnesses …said the truck was driving at a high rate of speed and the traffic was all at a dead stop as it was merging," Ness said.
The crash is one of two fatal accidents that happened between 2:17 p.m. and 2:33 p.m. Monday on I-55, Ness said.
In the second, one semi rear-ended another semi on the interstate's southbound lanes at U.S Route 6, about three miles north of the accident near Arsenal Road. Two truck drivers were taken to hospitals but one of them has died, Ness said.
The driver who died was identified as Deividas Mockus, 41, of Darien.
Interstate 55 has reopened in the areas affected by the crashes.