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Illinois State trooper killed

Illinois State Trooper James Sauter is dead after a crash with a semi-truck.

Andrew Bokelman, 25, is charged in the crash that killed him.

Prosecutors say Bokelman fell asleep behind the wheel while driving more hours than is allowed.

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Bond was set at $125,000 for a Wisconsin truck driver charged in a fiery Tri-State accident last Spring that claimed the life of state trooper,James Sauter.

26-year-old Andrew Bokelman faces three felony counts of commercial driving violations, after investigators say he fell asleep behind the wheel of his semi-truck, crushing the squad car of Trooper Sauter who died on the scene.   But in a controversial decision, prosecutors decided not to press more serious reckless homicide charges.

 

For some of the off-duty Troopers – close to 50 strong – crammed into the courtroom for Bokelman’s bond hearing, the lessor charges don’t seem adequate when you consider what happened the night of March 28th.

 

“It is a tragedy,” says Perez.  “It’s a tragedy for the Sauter family and it’s a tragedy for the Bokelman family.”

 

Trooper James Sauter’s squad car was crushed by the collision on the Tri-State Tollway, near Willow Road, the evening of March 28th.  Both vehicles erupted into flames, witnesses say.  And investigators determined that Bokelman fell asleep behind the wheel of his semi , drifting off to the left shoulder, waking up after the terrible impact.

 

In the courtroom today, prosecutors described Bokelman’s efforts after the crash to rescue the trapped Sauter, the Wisconsin trucker using a pocket knife to cut off the seat belt in a futile attempt to wrest Sauter free.  But a fireball knocked Bokelman back and the 28-year-old state trooper died from his injuries.

 

Blood tests at the hospital revealed no trace of alcohol or drugs in Sauter’s body.   And his lawyer says from the beginning, Bokelman cooperated fully with investigators.

“Both sides, from the prosecutors to defense attorneys and all the police personnel  and Andrew Bokelman himself have nothing but sympathy for Trooper Sauter and his family,” says defense attorney David Studenroth.

At the funeral last Spring, hundreds of troopers paid homage to Sauter, a highly decorated patrolman and pilot for the department’s aviation division.  Eight months after his death, the loss is still felt deeply – as evidenced by the 50-plus troopers at the courthouse  driving in from across the state to honor their fallen comrade.

 

“Today was about Jim Sauter,” says Major Perez.  We’re here to support him and his family.  The fact that there are so many off duty police here on their off day tells you about the kind of man Jim was.”

 

A truck driver involved in a crash that killed an Illinois State trooper allegedly fell asleep at the wheel before the accident.

Trooper James Sauter died last month after a semi-tractor trailer slammed into his squad car.

It happened in the southbound lanes of Interstate 294 near Willow Road in Northfield Township.

According to a police report obtained by the Sun-Tmes, the trucker fell asleep, veered off the road and hit Sauter’s car which was parked on the shoulder.

The truck driver has not been charged in connection with the accident but a state police spokeswoman says they’re still seeking charges.

Funeral services were held today for Illinois State Trooper James Sauter, who was killed last Thursday in a fiery crash on the Tristate Tollway.

Officers and troopers from police departments across the country attended the funeral at the Morraine Valley Church in Palos Heights.

Sauter, who was 28, entered the police academy about five years ago.  He was a pilot for the Illinois State Police, but he enjoyed being on patrol even more and he requested to be transferred back to road duty shortly before the crash.

“He was an outstanding human being,” said Sauter’s partner, Illinois State Trooper Jason Bradley. “The law enforcement community and the citizens of Illinois certainly lost a great man.”

Last Thursday around 11:00 p.m., Sauter was in his cruiser parked on I-294 just south of Willow Road when a semi tractor trailer hit him from behind.  Both vehicles burst into flames.  Sauter was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sauter is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and his parents.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday morning for the Illinois State trooper who was killed in the line of duty last week. jamessauter1

A semi-truck slammed into James Sauter last Thursday as he sat in his squad car, in the southbound shoulder of the Tri-State Tollway in Glenview.

Monday, fellow troopers were among hundreds of people who attended the visitation for Sauter at the Moraine Valley Church in Palos Heights.

His funeral will be held at that same church at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

A wake was held tonight for a state trooper who was killed in the line of duty last week.

28-year-old James Sauter was in his squad car last Thursday, sitting on the shoulder of southbound I-294 in Glenview.

A semitrailer truck hit him from behind, causing both vehicles to burst into flames.

Sauter’s fellow troopers greeted mourners in full dress uniform as they arrived at the moraine valley church.

Sauter’s funeral is set for Tuesday at 11 a.m.  at that same church.

The head of the 100 Club of Chicago presented trooper Sauter’s wife with a $15,000 check on Friday.

In a few weeks she will receive another $35,000 from the organization– a bit of help for the young widow, whose husband lost his life doing the job he loved.

The 28-year-old was killed late Thursday night on Interstate 294 near Willow Road when a semi-truck hit him from behind. Both vehicles burst into flames and the young trooper died at the scene.

The truck driver has been cited with improper lane usage, Bond said.
The investigation is ongoing.
It was still not known why the truck driver, who Bond declined to identify, did not see Sauter.

Bond said it was not known if further charges could be filed because authorities have not finished reconstructing the site of the crash.

They’re hoping to determine how fast the truck was going and why the crash happened.

Funeral services have been set for the Illinois State Trooper killed in a car crash.

Visitation for James Sauter will be held Monday at the Hills Funeral Home at 10201 South Roberts Rd. in Palos Hills.  The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Morraine Valley Church, 6300 W. 127th St. in Palos Heights.

With heavy hearts, friends and coworkers of Sauter visited his wife Elizabeth late Friday afternoon at their Vernon Hills home– offering whatever emotional comfort they could.

The head of the 100 Club of Chicago presented trooper Sauter’s wife with a $15,000 check on Friday. In a few weeks she will receive another $35,000 from the organization– a bit of help for the young widow, whose husband paid the ultimate price for the job he’s wanted since childhood.

state-trooper-carousel

The 28-year-old was killed late Thursday night on Interstate 294 near Willow Road when a semi-truck hit him from behind. Both vehicles burst into flames and the young trooper died at the scene.

According to friends and family, James Sauter lived and breathed the life of law enforcement.  A childhood dream he turned into reality in 2008 when he was assigned to District 15. That year, fresh from the academy, he was awarded a medal for saving a motorists life.

Now– a five year veteran of the force, he had recently been reassigned to tollway patrol.

Trooper Sauter’s body was ceremoniously carried to the medical examiner’s office Friday morning, surrounded by fellow law enforcement.

“All of us at the Illinois State Police are devastated we lost a wonderful person a wonderful human being and certainly a wonderful police officer.”

What caused the crash and why trooper Sauter was stopped on the southbound shoulder of the interstate is still being investigated.

It is unclear if the trooper’s lights were on or if the driver of the semi was breaking any laws.

The driver of the semi – a United Van Lines truck – suffered some burns but will be okay.

Police are questioning him and several witnesses as they try to piece this puzzle together.

An Illinois State trooper is dead after a crash with a semi-truck.

The trooper has been identified as 28-year-old James Sauter.

state-trooper-carousel

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

near Litchfield.

“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.

An Illinois State trooper is dead after a crash with a semi-truck.

The trooper has been identified as James Sauter.

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 was being questioned by police.

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 near Litchfield.

“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.”

Press conference held at Illinois Tollway headquarters in Downers Grove

An Illinois State trooper is dead after a crash with a semi-truck on I-294

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