Our condolences go out to the family of Trooper James Sauter, and his fellow State Troopers. Trooper Sauter was on duty stopped on the shoulder of I-294 southbound near Willow Thursday at 11:00 p.m. when a semi crashed into his squad.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
According to Peter Nickeas of the Chicago Tribune:
Sauter grew up in the neighborhood [Chicago Ridge] and had aspired to be a trooper since he was a child, said neighbor Pam Milashoski, whose son Dan had been a close friend since both were toddlers.
“Jimmy was straight-and-narrow, through and through,” Milashoski said. “He always knew what he wanted to be.”
Sauter played football and baseball at Richards High School and often went on long training runs with Milashoski’s son, who joined the Army around the time Sauter became a trooper.
“He was always very motivated,” Milashoski’s daughter, Cheryl, said as she wiped away tears. “He wanted to do good.”
As a cadet, Sauter was awarded the Lifesaving Medal in October of 2008. While on his way to the state police training academy, he saw a motorcycle on its side in the eastbound lane of I-80. No emergency vehicles were there yet, so Sauter grabbed a first responder bag and crossed over the lanes to help, state police said. Sauter tended to a woman whose airway was blocked by blood. She was airlifted to a hospital and survived, state police said.
“Trooper Sauter was a very talented, wonderful police officer,” Grau said. “He was with our air ops operations unit, he’s a pilot, and tried that for … a couple a months and decided, you know, he wanted to come back and work the roads. Very well-respected.
“As you can imagine, his fellow troopers, his fellow officers are devastated,” he continued. “I spent some time with his wife Liz this morning and as you can imagine, very difficult time for her… They’re all devastated as we are.” …
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.”