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updated: 7/14/2014 5:04 PM

Waukegan police officer killed in off-duty crash in Gurnee

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  • Waukegan police Officer Jason J. Mueller

      Waukegan police Officer Jason J. Mueller
    courtesy of Waukegan police

 
 

A Waukegan police officer died from head injuries he suffered in a single-vehicle, off-duty crash in Gurnee, authorities said.

Jason J. Mueller, 27, of Grayslake, died after the wreck early Saturday. Mueller, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was remembered as an aggressive cop who enjoyed working out.

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Gurnee Deputy Police Chief Saundra Campbell said Mueller was heading west on Washington Street in a 2007 Nissan Xterra sport utility vehicle when he crossed a grassy median and drove into the eastbound lanes.

Campbell said Mueller went off the road and crashed into a ComEd utility pole on the south side of Washington Street, east of Route 45. Gurnee paramedics brought Mueller to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville after authorities were summoned at 2:23 a.m.

Lake County Chief Deputy Coroner Orlando Portillo said Mueller was pronounced dead at 3:09 a.m. Saturday at Condell. Portillo said Mueller died from head trauma that resulted from him being ejected from the SUV.

"He was not wearing a seat belt," Portillo said of Mueller. "No other vehicles were involved (in the crash). He just lost control of his vehicle."

Portillo added that toxicology results are not expected for about four weeks.

Campbell said Monday she did not have information on Mueller's whereabouts before the wreck. She said the case remains under investigation.

Waukegan police said Mueller was hired in September 2013 and assigned to the patrol division.

"Although Officer Mueller was with the (Waukegan police) for less than a year, he will be greatly missed," Police Chief Wayne Walles said in a statement. "He was known as an aggressive officer that loved working out in his down time."

Mueller was in the Army from February 2006 until August 2012. He was an Army Ranger who served two tours of combat duty in Afghanistan and one tour in Iraq.

Purple-and-black bunting hung at Waukegan police headquarters Monday to recognize Mueller's death. Police Cmdr. Joe Florip said a peer support network and an employee assistance program are available to any officers affected by Mueller's death.

Florip said cops on Waukegan's streets work 12-hour shifts and are divided into four crews. Camaraderie develops between the officers.

"You're with the same group of officers all the time," he said.

Last week, Waukegan police hung the same bunting and mourned retired Lt. Steven Harvey, 58, who died with his wife in a motorcycle crash in Arkansas. Florip said Harvey's funeral service was at a Grayslake church Saturday, about nine hours after Mueller died.

Mueller's survivors include his wife, Katie, and young daughter, Ava.

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