Illinois State trooper dies in I-294 crash

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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.”

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  • George T

    We need 10X more State Troopers on our roads. Compensation packages devised around how many tickets they write to these outrageous drivers who have no regard for our rules of the road.

  • Chad

    I saw this trooper on 294 on my way home last night around 6:30 and got a good look at him as I was driving (as wanted to see if I was going to get pulled over since I was driving a bit fast)…and to see him die in such a horrific manner 5 hours later is just so sad.

  • jim

    The state recently increased the speed limit for trucks on interstate highways. Perhaps WGN should investigate who was behind this move, and if they received political contributions from the trucking industry.

  • Steve Crowell

    Trooper Sauter joins Trooper Ambrose, Trooper Agner, Trooper Le, and numerous other Officers and Troopers were rear-ended, the fuel tank compromised, fire ensued and none of these officers got out in time. I am convinced these are preventable deaths. Most (by my estimate 75%) remain conscious and get out or get dragged out of the car – unconscious. Trooper Engelhardt, Officer Schechterle, Trooper Russell etc…

    Some (25% by my estimate) do not maintain consciousness and remain in the car as it becomes engulfed in flames and perish. I strongly suspect that the "cage" or partition is the reason. It is extremely rigid and positioned directly behind the operators' head. When the collision occurs the partition slams the back of the head – of any front seat occupant rendering them unconscious. What other reason would anybody remain in a burning vehicle?

    It is unforgivable that those government agency officials who have been in a position to correct this problem have swept it under the rug for 40+ years.

    None of the partitions in use, comply with minimum federal motor vehicle safety standards, nor are any certified to comply, as required by federal law.

    Sadly, I am afraid part of the reason is that some wayward LEO's have used the partition to deliberately injure prisoners by slamming on the brakes to thrust the prisoner , face first, into the steel grid of the partition. This is a practice called "waffling" or "noodling" the prisoner. Some call it "going to Hollywood" or the "screen test". Some officers even boast about it, like Tim Ray of Monee, Illinois. It is a cowardly, vicious felony, easily characterized as institutionalized, nationwide, sanctioned police brutality.

    see my blog at for USDOT letters of warning.

    I admire and respect the good work that is done by most honorable officers.

    I drive a cab and I am 5-10 times more likely to be murdered 'on the job' than police officers. So don't tell ME about risk. Partitions in cabs exacerbate our murder rates by protecting gun wielding assailants from any of the drivers' possible efforts to defend himself. With a partition we are shot like a fish in a barrel. Partitions in cabs are todays' Maginot Line.