Gary L. Smith
| Journal Star

TOULON – “A sociable and lovely girl” who was “a fantastic worker” and “a wonderful mother” whose “pretty much her whole life was her daughter”.

That was how Jessica Patricia Recinos’ family and friends remembered the 32-year-old Springfield woman who was recently killed in a two-vehicle accident in rural Stark County.

Recinos drove their 2002 Toyota RAV 4 east on County Road 300N, locally known as the West Jersey Blacktop, just after 7 a.m. on March 29, police said. At the intersection with Illinois Route 78, her small SUV collided with a trailer being pulled by a semi moving south, and she was pronounced dead at the scene. The semi-driver was not injured.

She leaves behind a 12-year-old daughter, Christina, who has special medical needs. They lived in Springfield with their parents, Walter and Nuvia Rivas, and a 14-year-old nephew. She survived a sister in Maryland.

“She was a wonderful mother and a wonderful daughter,” said her father in a sometimes emotional interview. “She worked hard so that her daughter could have a better life.”

More: Identity released to victims in fatal crash in Stark County

A mobile phlebotomist

Recinos was a mobile phlebotomist, an unusual job title that means exactly what it says. She was trained to take blood samples for testing and had recently used those skills not by walking down hospital corridors but by driving the highways of a large swath through central Illinois.

She had worked since November for Lifescan Labs of Illinois LLC, a Skokie-based company that provides contracted services to nursing homes and other group housing facilities whose residents cannot easily get to a hospital or laboratory.

From her home in Springfield, she drove to facilities as far away as Danville and Moline to collect samples and transport them, and sometimes other types of specimens, to a care home in Toluca that also served as a collection point.

On March 29, “she was in Galesburg that morning and on her way to Toluca (when the crash happened),” said Bloomington associate and friend Julie Love. “We always drop our copies in a Toluca nursing home and then we have a courier who comes from Skokie and brings all of our copies to Skokie.”

Recinos actually worked for a temporary employment agency, but that was just because of the formal contractual requirements, said team leader Rebecca Reyes, of Canton. Reyes wanted to hire her permanently for the first week, she said.

“She had a great work ethic,” Reyes said. “I wanted her on my team right away. But there was a certain number of hours she had to work through (the temp agency) before she could move on with Lifescan. We were just waiting for her to reach the contract number. “

“The ideal employee”

It’s a demanding job, both Reyes and Love discovered. Recinos’ usual route, if not that day, was to drive to Danville first and then stop at several other locations as she made her way back to Toluca.

“We usually start our routes around 11 am, midnight,” said Love. “We all work long hours and drive many kilometers. There were days when I drove 600 miles. “

Recinos seemed to benefit from the challenge, said Reyes, whose first impressions were strongly confirmed by the woman’s dedication and work performance.

“She was a fantastic worker. There were days when she tried so hard that I had to tell her to take a rest, ”Reyes said. “Jessica never said no. When someone needed help, she was always there. She was the ideal employee. She was always in a good mood. She was just a happy person in general. “

Recinos used to work in a hospital, said Walter Rivas. And sometimes she worked in other jobs too, like a cell phone shop, to make extra money, he added.

“Just a week or two before the accident, she said to me, ‘Dad, I’m working hard because I’m going to buy a new car. And after that I’ll buy a new house for you and mom, ”he recalled. “What can I say? She was a nice woman. She wanted to do things for her family.”

‘Beautiful inside and out’

Rivas spoke by phone from the Baltimore area where the family had traveled to Springfield after a service to arrange Recinos’ funeral. The family lived there until 2012 when their parents moved to Springfield, where their father is a chef at a restaurant, he said.

There they were followed by Recinos in 2014, Rivas continued. Her husband, from whom she was hoping for a divorce at the time of her death, no longer lived with her and she was unable to arrange childcare, he said.

“She had no one else to look after her daughter so she could work, so she moved (to Springfield),” he said.

Daughter Christina will stay with her grandparents, who are also raising Recinos’ nephews, Rivas said.

Several of the nursing homes supported by Recinos have raised funds for the girl, Reyes said.

“The Arcadia Care Bloomington staff are all better at knowing you!” This facility said of Recinos in a condolence post on the Staab Funeral Homes website in Springfield. “The residents will miss your personality and will talk to you.”

Reyes, Love and other Lifescan employees gathered at the site of the crash recently to place a memorial cross with the signatures of staff and people from the nursing homes. It showed the impact she had in just a few months, they said.

“Jessica was a wonderful person. Beautiful inside and out, ”Reyes wrote in a condolence post. “The good gentleman called her home too early for us to stay here.”

An obituary can be found at Commemorative donations can be made to your family at

Gary L. Smith can be reached at (800) 516-0389 or