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updated: 7/15/2014 5:19 PM

Coroner's office: Alcohol played role in cop's death in Gurnee crash

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  • Jason J. Mueller

      Jason J. Mueller

 
 

A Waukegan police officer exceeded the legal blood-alcohol threshold when he died in an off-duty, single-vehicle crash in Gurnee last weekend, according to the Lake County coroner's office.

Jason J. Mueller, 27, of Grayslake, died after the wreck early Saturday, July 12. Mueller was a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Lake County Chief Deputy Coroner Orlando Portillo told the Daily Herald on Tuesday that toxicology results show Mueller was above the state's .08 percent blood-alcohol threshold when the crash occurred. He said he could not release the exact number because the crash remains under investigation.

Gurnee police 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.

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

Portillo said Mueller was pronounced dead at 3:09 a.m. Saturday at Condell. Mueller was not wearing a seat belt and died from head trauma that resulted from him being ejected from the SUV.

"Alcohol was a contributing factor," Portillo said.

Gurnee Deputy Police Chief Saundra Campbell said Monday she did not have information on Mueller's whereabouts before the wreck. Campbell could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Cmdr. Joe Florip, a Waukegan police spokesman, declined to comment on the crash, saying it's an open investigation being handled by Gurnee police and the coroner's office. He said police are focused on helping Mueller's family.

"Losing a police officer is a big deal," Florip said. "The department is still trying to wrap their arms around it."

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

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

Visitation for Mueller is 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Ahlgrim Family Funeral Home, 201 N. Northwest Highway in Palatine. A funeral service for Mueller is at 11 a.m. Friday at All Saints Lutheran Church, 630 S. Quentin Road, also in Palatine.

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

Twitter: @DHBobSusnjara

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