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Illinois State Trooper Killed in Car Accident
It's the second fatality for the Illinois State Police in five months: troopers killed on the job while helping motorists on the interstate. The latest tragedy took place Thursday night in northern Illinois. Trooper James Sauter was pronounced dead at the scene of a fiery crash on interstate 294. The 28-year-old trooper was pulled over on the shoulder of the highway to help a stranded motorist when he was rear-ended by a semi-truck.
Just hours after Sauter's death, state police, police support organizations, and even Gov. Pat Quinn were honoring the fallen officer. One local group has already reached out to offer the family support.
"Since 9/11 has passed the thought of police officers
dying in the line of duty or firefighters dying in the line of duty has passed," Sangamon County Sheriff’s Deputy Terry Roderick said.
"Accidents like this bring that up to people's minds and they remember."
Roderick is the Illinois liaison officer for Concerns of Police Survivors, or C.O.P.S. The national organization offers support and counseling to families who've lost loved ones serving as first responders. He already put calls in to the state police to offer the help of his organization to the family just processing the loss of their loved one. Meanwhile, his fellow officers are still working to figure out just what happened.
"Our ISP crash reconstruction team is in the process of reconstructing the crash, and we have witnesses being interviewed, and also the driver of the vehicle," State Police Director Hiram Grau said.
Grau hailed the District 15 trooper as leaving a legacy of
courage, honor, and duty. The crash is a reminder of how much danger police
officers are in on a daily basis.
Gov. Pat Quinn issued a statement about the accident, saying, "Trooper Sauter's untimely passing is a tragic reminder of the dangers our sworn officers face every day in the line of duty."
Roderick hopes the comfort and care of a network of survivors will help the family through the grieving process.
"Just be careful," Roderick said. "If you see a police officer on the side of the road, if you see a fire apparatus on the side of the road, please move over to the left lane to avoid this accident and the accident that happened down around Litchfield."
The truck driver who hit Sauter’s car was hospitalized with burns to his hands.