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University of Illinois Truck Accident Leaves 20-Year-Old Dead

The University of Illinois is now mourning a 20-year-old student who was killed when a truck jumped the curb and hit her on an Urbana sidewalk. The driver claims he suffered a diabetic reaction at the time of the accident.

Urbana police are still investigating the accident that occurred on Wednesday morning close to the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Two women, both students, were hit by a pickup truck that jumped over a curb and hit them on the sidewalk. Mimi Liu, 20, was pronounced dead at Carle Foundation Hospital. Spandana Mantravadi, 20, was injured and taken to a nearby hospital.

The 1993 Chevrolet pickup was seen by witnesses driving erratically for nearly a mile before the accident, including blowing out a tire and sideswiping another car, according to police. The driver, Willie Craft Sr, 58, of Urbana, was cited for driving without insurance and improper lane usage.

Police took blood tests and additional charges may be filed, according to Urbana Police Sgt. Dan Morgan.

After the truck struck the women on Lincoln Avenue, Craft then drove a few more blocks before driving onto a three-foot retaining wall and coming to a stop, according to Morgan.

The craft was previously cited for driving without insurance and disregarding a traffic signal in 2005, according to Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz. He also received tickets for speeding in the 1980s and 1990.

Liu graduated from Whitney Young with a 4.06 grade-point average and recently switched her major at the University of Illinois to agriculture and consumer economics, according to a college spokeswoman.

Her academic adviser, Jessa Barnard, said, “She had really been someone who stood out to me as someone very excited about these opportunities… She never seemed too overwhelmed. She always seemed very composed.”

Liu also worked as a spokeswoman, volunteer, and intern for the Chinese Fine Arts Society and spent time helping at nursing homes, libraries, and social functions in the area. The girl was also described as an “incredible pianist” who won several competitions.

Liu is the second university student to die in just two weeks. Mengchen Huang was stabbed to death in her apartment in Urbana on September 27, and a former boyfriend is charged with her murder.

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