SKOKIE, Ill. — Law enforcement agencies across the region are mourning the death of Illinois State Trooper Christopher Lambert after he was struck by a car and killed Saturday after stopping to help victims of an accident while he was on his way home.
Flying at half staff, the flags snapped to attention outside of Illinois State Police Post 15 in Downers Grove Sunday. Inside, a portrait of 34-year-old Trooper Christopher Lambert wreathed in purple and black served as a memorial to the man who lost his life protecting the public.
Accompanied by a procession of police vehicles, Lambert's body arrived at a funeral home Sunday afternoon, less than 24 hours after he died in a tragic traffic accident.
Authorities say Lambert was on his way home at the end of his shift Saturday when he spotted a traffic accident in the snowy conditions on I-294 near Willow Road. He stopped to help, and was hit by another car.
“All of law enforcement does that. That’s what we do," Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz said. “We lost one of our own. One of our best.”
After a news conference Saturday night, word of his death was sent to the state police force in a somber dispatch signifying the “End of Watch." Radios fell silent for the long procession to the morgue. Firefighters used ladder trucks to form an archway, unfurling an American flag to honor Lambert’s military service and five years as a trooper.
"It’s such a tragedy. I truly believe law enforcement give of themselves to protect the public to help the public,” Lambert's neighbor Karen Long said.
At his home in Highland Park, there was an outpouring of support Sunday from law enforcement and neighbors. Lambert leaves behind a young wife and a one year old daughter.
“It’s unbelievable this little child will not know her father for her whole life. To not have your dad for all of the events of your life — graduations, weddings — it’s absolutely heartbreaking,” Long said.
Emergency responders paid their respects as Lambert's body was taken to Donnellan Family Funeral Home in Skokie Sunday evening.
“He was a go-getter. A hard worker. They loved him. He got things done," Schmitz said.
Funeral arrangements are not yet public, but authorities are warning people not to donate to any GoFundMe or online fundraising efforts, since nothing official has been set up yet.