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Husband of I-55 crash victim sues truck driver

CHANNAHON – The husband of one of the victims in the July 21 crash on Interstate 55 has filed a lawsuit against the truck driver as well as the driver's company.

Moses Blopleh, the husband of Channahon 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.

Moses Blopleh seeks more than $50,000 in damages from driver Francisco Espinal-Quiroz and his company, Espinal Trucking.

"It was a very hard decision for the family," said Frank Andreano, a lawyer representing the family. "These are very difficult times for them. They want to know why (Espinal-Quiroz) was on the road."

The accident occurred the afternoon of July 21, killing Ulrike Blopleh of Channahon and three other victims that day: Kimberly K. Britton, 43, and Piper Britton, 11, of Urbana; and Vicky L. Palaciocs, 54, of Coal City. Timothy Osburn, 64, of Urbana, also was involved in the first collision and was pronounced dead Aug. 6.

Police said Espinal-Quiroz was driving a semitrailer on I-55 and switched lanes as cars were stopped due to construction at the Des Plaines River bridge. He hit cars, leading to a chain reaction accident that resulted in the deaths.

Ulrike Blopleh and her two sons were in the passenger seats of a car that her daughter was driving. Her children suffered injuries in the crash.

The lawsuit claims that Espinal-Quiroz was speeding, failed to reduce speed and didn't safely change lanes. The lawsuit points out that Espinal-Quiroz appeared to have impaired vision, suggesting he was not fit to operate the truck he was driving.

The suit also claims Espinal-Quiroz drove more hours than allowed by federal law and was exhausted to the point that he was a safety hazard.

The suit is the second civil suit filed against Espinal-Quiroz in relation to the crash. The first was filed earlier this month by Palaciocs' son.

Also Thursday, upgraded criminal charges were filed against Espinal-Quiroz in Will County Circuit Court. He was indicted on 15 counts of reckless homicide.

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