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James Sauter, State Trooper, Killed By Semi-Truck On Tri-State Tollway After Stopping To Help Motorist

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Illinois State Police
Illinois State Police

A young Illinois State Police officer with a record of helping others was tragically killed late Thursday after he was struck by a semi-trailer on the Tri-State Tollway.

Around 11 p.m., James Sauter, 28, had pulled over in the southbound lanes of I-294 near Willow Road after he had finished helping a motorist, according to ABC Chicago.

Sauter had climbed back into his patrol car when it was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer, causing both vehicles to burst into flames, according to the Sun-Times. Sauter was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Tribune went on to describe the solemn scene that continued at the medical examiner's office, where troopers stiffened their arms to salute a fallen comrade who, even as a cadet, was saving lives. In 2008, Sauter was awarded the Lifesaving Medal for helping save a motorcycle crash victim whom he spotted on his way to the state police training academy.

A member of the State Police since 2008, Sauter is survived by his wife Elizabeth and family.

Sauter's charred patrol car was taken to the morgue on a flatbed truck where it had to be dismantled by fire crews to remove his body.

"Trooper Sauter represented everything good about our department," ISP Director Hiram Grau said during a Friday news conference, according to NBC Chicago. "Now, we need to be with the Sauter family and support his fellow officers and colleagues. I offer my sincere condolences to the entire Sauter family."

A Fox Chicago broadcast says the driver of the semi truck, who sustained only minor injuries, is being investigated.

According to CBS Chicago, Sauter was the second state trooper to die in the line of duty in the past five months.

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