An Illinois State trooper is dead after a crash with a semi-truck.
The trooper has been identified as 28-year-old James Sauter.
Sauter, a licensed pilot, had been a trooper since 2008 and had just completed a temporary assignment in the state police air operations.
He was recently assigned to District 15, which covers the tollways. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and his parents.
Authorities say he was killed when a semi-truck hit his cruiser. Sauter was stopped on the shoulder of southbound Interstate 294 when the semi struck him from behind, Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau said.
It was not clear whether Sauter’s emergency lights were on or why he was stopped. The southbound lanes were closed after the crash for several hours. Witnesses say that at one point the semi-truck was on fire.
“Our accident reconstruction team is working,” Grau said. “It was a pretty horrific accident. We don’t have all the details yet.”
The driver of the semi, a United Van Lines truck, was being questioned by police. He may have suffered a burned hand, Grau said, adding that the results of blood tests were not available yet.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Sauter is the second Illinois state trooper killed in the last five months. Trooper Kyle Deatherage, 32, was struck and killed by a semi during a traffic stop the end of November along northbound Interstate 55
“Unfortunately, this is the second line of duty death within the last five months for the Illinois state police,” Grau said. “Trooper Sauter represented everything good about this department.”
Governor Pat Quinn released the following statement regarding the crash last night that claimed James Sauter’s life.
“Today the entire state of Illinois mourns the loss of Trooper James Sauter, who worked tirelessly to protect the people of our state. Illinois is a safer and better place thanks to his bravery and commitment to public safety.
“Trooper Sauter’s untimely passing is a tragic reminder of the dangers our sworn officers face every day in the line of duty.
“I send my condolences to the family and friends of Trooper James Sauter. They are in our thoughts and prayers during these most difficult of times.”
The Illinois Tollway also released a statement about Sauter:
“On behalf of the Tollway board and entire Illinois Tollway, we are saddened by the tragic loss of Illinois State Police District 15 Trooper James Sauter. District 15 and its troopers are assigned to serve and protect our 286-mile system of
tollways, and we consider them to be part of our Illinois Tollway family. We extend our sympathy to Trooper Sauter’s family and the Illinois State Police after this horrible accident.”
This afternoon, The Hundred Club will make a check presentation to the widow of State Trooper James Sauter at their home.