Off-duty Cook County sheriff’s investigator killed in Chicago Ridge crash

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CHICAGO RIDGE, Ill. — An off-duty Cook County sheriff’s investigator was killed Saturday in a high-speed crash in suburban Chicago Ridge.

It happened just after midnight in the 10100 block of Virginia Avenue.

Investigator James Koch was returning to his Chicago Ridge home after a shift when his 2002 Chevrolet was struck by a 2015 Nissan being driven by a 16-year-old boy, according to the Chicago Ridge Police Department.

Koch was unresponsive when first responders arrived, and needed to be extricated from his heavily damaged car, police said. He was later pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Medical Center.

Cook County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Sophia Ansari said Koch had been with the office for more than 28 years.

"He was an incredible colleague and friend to so many," Ansari said in an email. "Our hearts are broken for his family, his friends and all who were fortunate enough to know him."

Police said the 16-year-old driver is in custody and slated to appear at Cook County Juvenile Court on Sunday. The teen, whose name is not being released because he is a minor, faces felony charges of reckless homicide, operating a vehicle without a driver's license, driving in the wrong lane and driving too fast for road conditions.

Illinois State Police are assisting in the investigation.

Three hours later, Illinois Trooper Gerald Ellis was struck and killed by a wrong-way driver near Libertyville. He was the second trooper killed on the roads this week: Trooper Brooke Jones-Story died Thursday after being struck by a semi-truck while inspecting a different truck near Freeport. Trooper Christopher Lambert was killed in January while responding to a three-car crash on I-294 in Northbrook.

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