A tragic trucking accident on southbound Interstate 294 in Illinois resulted in the death of Illinois State Trooper, James Sauter. Sauter, 28, has been an Illinois State Trooper since 2008. According to Hiram Grau, Illinois State Police Director, Sauter’s cruiser was struck from behind by a semi while he was stopped on the shoulder of the Interstate.
According to witnesses, the semi was on fire at one point after the accident, but the driver reportedly suffered only minor injuries, including a possibly burned hand. Grau stated that the accident reconstruction team was still working to get more details about what actually happened and the reason for the trooper’s being stopped on the shoulder. The United Van Lines driver was questioned by police and given a blood test but troopers are still waiting for the results.
The Illinois Tollway and Governor Pat Quinn both released statements regarding the crash expressing condolences. Governor Pat Quinn stated, “Today the entire state of Illinois mourns the loss of Trooper James Sauter, who worked tirelessly to protect the people of our state. Illinois is a safer and better place thanks to his bravery and commitment to public safety. Trooper Sauter’s untimely passing is a tragic reminder of the dangers our sworn officers face every day in the line of duty.” A visitation was held for Sauter on April 1st and the funeral was held on April 2nd.
James Sauter is the second Illinois State Trooper to be killed in this type of trucking accident in only five months. At the end of November, Trooper Kyle Deatherage, was struck by a semi and killed on northbound Interstate 55 during a traffic stop.
Rear-ended trucking accidents are extremely dangerous and pose a threat to all motorists. Contributing factors include driver distraction, fatigue, aggressive driving, and lack of maintenance. For more information, see the previous blog post, “Establishing Fault in a Rear-Ended Trucking Accident.”