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Tractor-trailer rear-ends stopped vehicles near Chicago, killing 4

According to Illinois State Police, the truck driver, Francisco Espinal-Quiroz, an owner-operator from Leesburg, Indiana, is charged with keeping a false logbook and willfully entering false information.

By LYNDON FINNEY
The Trucker Staff

7/22/2014

ELWOOD, Ill. — It’s happened again. A tractor-trailer has slammed into the rear of three vehicles stopped on an Interstate, this time killing four people and injuring four others.

It happened Monday afternoon on Interstate 55 near Elwood, which is located southwest of Chicago.

According to Illinois State Police, the truck driver, Francisco Espinal-Quiroz, an owner-operator from Leesburg, Indiana, is charged with keeping a false logbook and willfully entering false information. He was due in bond court Tuesday, appearing on charges of felony logbook violations.

The crash happened at 2:17 p.m.

The four people killed were all Illinois residents.

Four others were injured and taken to Chicago area hospitals.

The truck driver also underwent mandatory blood and urine testing for drugs and alcohol, a state police district commander 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.

According to the Chicago Tribune, 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, the state police spokesman said.

According to NBC Chicago, only minutes after that crash, two tractor-trailers were involved in a separate accident on I-55 near U.S. Route 6. One tractor-trailer rear-ended the other and both drivers were sent to the hospital. Driver Deividas Mockus, 41, of Darien, Illinois, was killed.

The accidents bring the tally to six documented cases in the past six weeks when a tractor-trailer crashed into the back of that had slowed down or were stopped for either construction or other accidents beginning with the tragedy in New Jersey where a companion of comedian Tracy Morgan was killed.

In all, eight people have lost their lives.

Prior to the accident near Chicago, the most recent fatality was a New Jersey police officer checking for speeders on Route 17 who died July 17 when a tractor-trailer went on the shoulder and struck the officer’s unmarked car, pushing it into a retaining wall.

The trucker driver, Ryon Cumberbatch, was charged with vehicular homicide and pleaded not guilty during a court hearing.

The other two accidents occurred in Arkansas, one in a construction zone, the other at the site of an accident.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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