State trooper killed after helping motorist in I-294 crash - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

State trooper killed after helping motorist in I-294 crash

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Police cars lined up in procession. (Photo courtesy of Brian Slodysko) Police cars lined up in procession. (Photo courtesy of Brian Slodysko)
Trooper James Sauter, 28. Trooper James Sauter, 28.
Illinois State Trooper James Sauter. (Photo courtesy of Illinois State Police) Illinois State Trooper James Sauter. (Photo courtesy of Illinois State Police)
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

It was fiery scene on I-294 in Northbrook Friday, as a trucker slammed into the back of a state police car idling on the road side. It killed a 28-year-old State Trooper.

Charred wreckage taken from the scene near Willow Road on the Tri-State Tollway betrayed how violent the accident was that killed Illinois State Trooper James Sauter.

"We do know that he was struck from the rear end, dragged about 300 yards," Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau explained. "It was a horrific, horrific accident. It's gonna take a while to reconstruct the whole thing and get all the facts."

"Trooper Sauter left a legacy of courage, honor and duty," Grau added. "Our hearts are heavy with grief, but they are also strengthened by Trooper Sauter's brave calling and dedicated service."

A convoy of Chicago Police vehicles escorted the dead trooper's body to the office of the Cook County Medical Examiner. All authorities would initially say about the truck driver who struck him was that his hands were burned.

Colleagues said 28-year old trooper Sauter, who grew up in Oak Lawn, had talked of joining the force since he was a little boy. They said his aunt retired as a State Police lieutenant colonel.

His supervisor and frequent fishing companion described Sauter as a model policeman.

"Our job is a dangerous one and Jim had been involved...excuse me..." ILS Lt. Mark Karczewski said, too overcome with emotion to continue his sentence.

Governor Quinn added his voice to those mourning the death of the state trooper, calling it a tragic reminder of the dangers our law enforcement personnel face every day. He sent his condolences to Sauter's friends and family and praised his bravery and commitment to public safety, adding the entire state of Illinois mourns his death.

Police drove in procession, escorting the wreckage of Sauter's car loaded aboard a flat-bed truck to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

There, dozens of police officers and state troopers stood at attention as firefighters cut away the twisted steel and removed him from the wreckage.

"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," Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said in a statement. "We extend our sympathy to Trooper Sauter's family and the Illinois State Police after this horrible accident."

Sauter, who is survived by his wife and other family, had been a trooper for nearly five years, and recently completed a temporary assignment in Air Operations. He was recently re-assigned to ISP District 15 as a patrolman.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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