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Illinois state trooper killed in fiery crash

Published: Friday, March 29, 2013 7:59 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, March 30, 2013 1:36 p.m. CDT

NORTHBROOK – An Illinois State Police trooper was killed Friday morning when a semi-truck slammed into his squad car, causing both vehicles to burst into flames along Interstate 294 in Chicago’s northern suburbs.

State Police identified the trooper as 28-year-old James Sauter of Vernon Hills.

He was pronounced dead at the scene early Friday. The trooper’s vehicle was idling on the roadway shoulder when the truck struck it from behind.

The driver was hospitalized for burns to his hand and was not immediately identified.

Gov. Pat Quinn said the state is safer thanks to Sauter’s “bravery and commitment to public safety.”

“Trooper Sauter’s untimely passing is a tragic reminder of the dangers our sworn officers face every day in the line of duty,” the governor said in a statement.

Sauter joined Illinois State Police nearly five years ago. He had just finished a temporary assignment in air operations and was reassigned as a patrolman to District 15 in Downers Grove.

State Police Director Hiram Grau said Sauter “left a legacy of courage, honor and duty.” The cause of the accident is under investigation.

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