Northbrook residents like myself were shocked this morning to hear about a deadly collision that occurred last night between a semi truck and an Illinois State Trooper on I-294 at Willow Road that left the state trooper dead.
I happen to live within a mile of this accident location, and our hearts go out to the victim and his family.
Officials have reported that the collision occurred just after 11:00 p.m. and that the trooper was on duty at the time. His patrol vehicle was so mangled that firefighters reportedly had to cut apart the vehicle to remove the trooper’s body.
Witnesses state that the trooper was stopped on the shoulder of I-294 near Willow Road when a semi rear-ended him at a very high speed. The Chicago Tribune reports both vehicles burst into flames after impact, leaving the driver of the semi with a burn on his hand but apparently sustaining no life-threatening injuries.
This is the second time in five months that an Illinois State Trooper has been killed by a semi while on duty, raising the question of just how dangerous its is to be a law enforcement officer in Illinois.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there are currently over 900,000 law enforcement officers serving throughout the country – the highest number ever actively serving. An increase in the number of officers might suggest an increase in public safety, but unfortunately a large number of officers does not appear to increase the safety of the officers themselves. These officers are injured and killed at alarming rates, both here in Illinois and in other states. Nationally, more than 58,000 law enforcement officers are assaulted each year and more than 16,000 of those assaults result in injuries.
When thinking about officer safety, people often consider officers hurt while apprehending suspected criminals. It is easy to forget that traffic accidents cause a large number of injuries and deaths among officers until an incident like that in Northbrook last night reminds us.
Scott’s Law, commonly known as the “Move Over” law, was enacted after a lieutenant firefighter, Scott Gillen, was hit and killed by an intoxicated driver while responding to a previous crash. Scott’s Law requires all drivers in Illinois to slow down, proceed with caution, and yield the right-of-way by making a lane change if possible whenever an emergency vehicle is stopped with its lights flashing. At this time it is not clear whether the trooper had his lights flashing but it is clear that the trooper was stopped on the left shoulder of the highway and that the truck driver did not yield the left lane to the officer.
The Chicago truck lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. have handled a number of cases for clients who were injured or killed by a negligent semi driver. Due to the size and weight of a semi compared to the size and weight of a standard vehicle, collisions involving commercial trucks often result in catastrophic injuries or death. Truckers also tend to drive long hours in all types of conditions, which can lead to fatigue. Studies routinely show that fatigued and tired drivers are much more likely to cause collisions, and when the tired driver is hauling a semi trailer, these collisions are especially dangerous.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a collision involving a semi truck, regardless of the extent of your injuries, you deserve to know your rights. Call Abels & Annes today for a free consultation to discover if you have a claim for your injuries or even the death of a family member suffered as a result of a collision.
State trooper killed in Tri-State Tollway crash, SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE, March 29, 2013
State trooper killed in fiery collision with semi on I-294, By Peter Nickeas Tribune reporter, March 29, 2013