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