SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois House and Senate Friday honored the memory of a suburban state trooper who was struck and killed on the side of the road March 28.
The family and colleagues of James Sauter, 28, gathered at the Capitol where lawmakers spoke about Sauter's life and service.
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"I've been on the tollway alone and out of gas," said state Rep. Carol Sente, a Vernon Hills Democrat. "I lost my sister on a state highway when her car rolled over in a tragic accident. Each time a friendly face, a state trooper, was there. Someone with kindness in their heart and a desire to help a motorist in distress stopped to help."
Sauter lived in Vernon Hills with his wife, Elizabeth.
Sauter had just helped a driver on I-94 and had pulled his state police cruiser over on the left shoulder on I-294 just south of Willow Road near Northbrook when his vehicle was struck from behind by a United Van Lines truck.
State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat, said Sauter demonstrated his bravery throughout his time as a trooper. She said that when he was still a cadet he saw a woman who had been in a motorcycle accident and rushed in to help.
"He ran across a few lanes of traffic to assist the woman," Nekritz said. "He kept her air passages clear until the ambulance arrived and she survived her injuries as a result of his actions."
State Rep. Dennis Reboletti, an Elmhurst Republican, said he knows how deep the bond is in the Illinois law enforcement community because he lost a friend who served in the Joliet police department. He said Sauter knew how dangerous it was to provide help on the side of a busy highway.
"He understood those risks and he understood them and undertook them knowing that if he could save one life he would put his life in that place," Reboletti said. "And that's exactly what he did."