Charges filed in Chicago student death on U of I campus

As the University of Illinois mourns a student killed when a truck jumped a curb and struck her on an Urbana sidewalk, the driver says he had diabetic reaction.
November 20, 2013 9:50:00 AM PST
An Urbana man is facing a reckless homicide charge for last month's death of a University of Illinois student who died when she was hit by a truck as she walked on campus.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports Willie Craft Sr. is also charged with aggravated driving under the influence for the Oct. 9 crash that killed Mimi Liu of Chicago.

The junior was studying in the school's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. Another student was also injured.

The 58-year-old was cited at the time for driving without insurance and improper lane usage. Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz says Craft was also struggling with low blood sugar. It wasn't immediately clear if Craft had an attorney. He's set to appear in court on Dec. 6.

Liu, once a student at Merit School of Music, was remembered as a gifted pianist.

"She was a wonderful girl. And an absolute joy of a student for us here," Timothy Riordan, Merit School of Music, said.

The other student struck, Spandana Mantravadi, survived. Her injuries weren't considered life threatening,.

"It's just an awful situation. I feel so bad for those girls. They were just walking, like me and now one of them is dead. I feel bad for their families," Brittany Cline, U of I student, said.

Liu was an intern for the Chinese Fine Arts Society and had received awards from the organization for her performances.

"She went to college, and then, 'Do you need any help? Can I volunteer?' Which is incredible," Julie Taio Ma, Chinese Fine Arts Society, said.

Urbana police had previously cited Craft for driving without insurance and improper lane usage.

Liu was the second university student to die in a two-week span. Mengchen Huang was stabbed to death in her Urbana apartment on Sept. 27. A former boyfriend is charged with murder in her death.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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