Friends mourn Urbana mother and daughter killed in crash while husband remains in critical condition

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URBANA – Friends remember a family after an Urbana mother and daughter are killed in a crash on I-55.

Kimberly Britton, her husband Tim, and daughter Piper were on their way to visit her family out east, when their own was suddenly torn apart.

“I think we are all having a hard time even imagining that it's real,” said Gloria Keeley, Kim’s boss.

Because the series of events is shocking: as the Urbana family was driving north on I-55 Monday afternoon, a tractor trailer behind them slammed into the car in front of it, causing a chain reaction, and killing four people in the pile-up, including 11-year-old Piper, and her mother, Kim.

“I think people still expect Kim to show up at the office and it 's going to be a while for it to sink in,” said Keeley.

Because Kim was a very familiar face at the University of Illinois Office of Business and Financial Services, working her way up to assistant director after being hired in 2002. During that time, Keeley was not just her boss, but also a friend.                

“She engaged with people in such a way that they felt better about themselves and she was just a joy to be with,” said Keeley.

 And when Kim needed joy in her life, they were quick to return the favor.

“Her pregnancy was a little bit difficult and we helped her through that,” said Keeley. “And she was just delighted when Piper was born, and has been an adoring mother since then and incredibly supportive, supportive of Piper. A great wife.”

Her husband, Tim, survived the crash, but remained in critical condition at a Chicago hospital Tuesday evening, while friends at home mourned the loss of his girl.

“They were a fantastic family,” said Keeley.

The driver of the truck is behind bars for the crash. Fifty-one-year-old Francisco Espinal-Quiroz is charged with failing to reduce his speed and falsifying his logbook. State police say he was speeding when he ran into multiple vehicles stopped in a construction zone.

“There are allegations that the defendant was speeding and that there was indication that he had failed to brake prior to the collision,” said Will County States Attorney spokesman, Charles Pelke. “He stated that he started work around 6-6:30 in the morning, when in realty he had started work at about 2:30 in the morning.”

Espinal-Quiroz is being held on $1 million bond.

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