Trooper killed in crash honored with tollway overpass

  • Trooper James Sauter

    Trooper James Sauter

  • The family of Illinois State Police Trooper James Sauter, killed two years ago, gathered Tuesday to remember him as an overpass in Des Plaines was dedicated and named in his honor. From left are his father Don Sauter, brother Matt Sauter, mother Eileen Sauter and wife Elizabeth Kelly.

      The family of Illinois State Police Trooper James Sauter, killed two years ago, gathered Tuesday to remember him as an overpass in Des Plaines was dedicated and named in his honor. From left are his father Don Sauter, brother Matt Sauter, mother Eileen Sauter and wife Elizabeth Kelly. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Elizabeth Kelly speaks about her late husband in front of a sign that will be erected on I-294 near the Willow Road exit honoring the late Illinois State Police Trooper James Sauter.

      Elizabeth Kelly speaks about her late husband in front of a sign that will be erected on I-294 near the Willow Road exit honoring the late Illinois State Police Trooper James Sauter. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • The family of Illinois State Police Trooper James Sauter, killed two years ago by a fatigued truck driver, view the sign that will honor him in Des Plaines. Pictured are Sauter's father Don, brother Matt and mother Eileen.

      The family of Illinois State Police Trooper James Sauter, killed two years ago by a fatigued truck driver, view the sign that will honor him in Des Plaines. Pictured are Sauter's father Don, brother Matt and mother Eileen. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • An Illinois State Police procession heads down I-294 to the site of the fatal accident two years ago that claimed the life of Illinois State Police Trooper James Sauter.

      An Illinois State Police procession heads down I-294 to the site of the fatal accident two years ago that claimed the life of Illinois State Police Trooper James Sauter. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Don Sauter gets a hug from Illinois State Police Director Lei Schmitz during a tribute to the bravery and courage of Sauter's son, Illinois State Police Trooper James Sauter. The younger Sauter was killed in 2013 when a fatigued trucker crashed into his squad car.

      Don Sauter gets a hug from Illinois State Police Director Lei Schmitz during a tribute to the bravery and courage of Sauter's son, Illinois State Police Trooper James Sauter. The younger Sauter was killed in 2013 when a fatigued trucker crashed into his squad car. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 9/8/2015 7:14 PM

A permanent reminder about the human cost of dangerous driving will now be seen by millions who travel on the Tri-State Tollway (I-294).

State officials Tuesday renamed the Willow Road overpass in Des Plaines the Trooper James Sauter Memorial Willow Road Overpass. It honors the 28-year-old trooper from Vernon Hills who was killed when a fatigued trucker hit his squad car, which was stopped on the shoulder March 28, 2013.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"James was a man of purpose," his widow Liz Kelly said. "Far too many are killed by automobile crashes that are preventable."

"I hope it is a reminder to people to drive carefully," Sauter's brother, Matt, said. "Day after day I see people flying by squad cars as if they're not there and it sickens me."

Friends and family remembered Sauter as a kid who loved Superman and wanted to be a pilot initially, then put his heart into police work.

When the crash that killed Sauter occurred, United Van Lines truck driver Andrew B. Brokelman had been driving for more than 12 hours without a rest, a federal investigation found. Brokelman was fined $2,500 and United Van Lines $5,000 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

He faces charges of driving a commercial motor vehicle while fatigued, driving beyond duty status and falsifying duty records in Cook County court.

In January 2014, tollway worker Vincent Petrella was killed and State Trooper Doug Balder was injured on I-88 in Aurora when another fatigued truck driver struck their vehicles while they were helping a motorist.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Metra Police Chief Joseph M. Perez, who knew Sauter from his former job as State Police Region 1 commander, contends that police and the public are still at risk from fatigued truckers.

The problem is drivers exceeding their hours and companies punishing their workers if they don't work long hours, Perez said.

The day he died, Sauter showed up early and helped out a motorist before being fatally struck, the chief recalled.

"He was the guy that, if your family was stranded on the side of the road, you'd want to help you," Perez said.

The dedication occurred a day after the funeral for Fox Lake police Lt. Joseph Gliniewicz, who was killed while chasing three suspects.

"Never has this profession become more challenging," state Rep. Carol Sente said.

State Rep. John Cabello, a Machesney Park Republican, said the government has let down police and offered an apology. "We cut your budget, we send you out to do an impossible job without proper backup," he said.

Legislation Cabello sponsored increasing penalties on truckers who violate safety regulations will go into effect Jan. 1.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.