Funeral arrangements have been settled for Illinois State Trooper James Sauter, 28, who was killed when a semitrailer truck hit his squad car and both vehicles burst into flames late Thursday on I-294 in Glenview.
Visitation is set for Monday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Moraine Valley Church, 6300 W. 127th St. in Palos Heights, said ISP spokeswoman Monique Bond. The funeral is Tuesday at 11 a.m. at the same church.
The trucker has been cited with improper lane usage, Bond said. The investigation is continuing and it was still not known why the truck driver, who Bond declined to identify, did not see Sauter.
Bond said it was not known if further charges could be filed because authorities have not finished reconstructing the site of the crash to find out how fast the truck was going and why the crash happened.
Sauter liked patrol so much he asked to be taken out of air operations, officials said. He recently had been reassigned to patrol the tollways when his squad car was hit by the semi on Interstate 294 south of Willow Road shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday. Both vehicles burst into flames and Sauter, 28, was pronounced dead at the scene.
State police officials said it appeared Sauter was on the shoulder of southbound Interstate 294 when the semi hit him from behind. It was not clear whether Sauter's emergency lights were on or why he was stopped.
An autopsy Friday determined primary causes of Sauter's death were thermal injuries from the fire that erupted after the crash, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.
Secondary causes of death were listed as inhalation injuries and minor closed head injuries, according to the medical examiner’s office, which ruled Sauter's death an accident.
The driver of the semi, a United Van Lines truck, apparently suffered a burned hand, said Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau.
Sauter, a licensed pilot, had been a trooper since 2008 and had just completed a temporary assignment in the state police air operations. He was recently assigned to District 15, which covers the tollways. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and his parents.
Sauter lived in Vernon Hills, but he grew up in Chicago Ridge and wanted to be a trooper since he was a child, according to a neighbor, Pam Milashoski, whose son Dan had been a close friend since both were toddlers.
As a cadet, Sauter was awarded the Lifesaving Medal in October of 2008. While on his way to the state police training academy, he saw a motorcycle on its side in the eastbound lane of I-80. No emergency vehicles were there yet, so Sauter grabbed a first responder bag and crossed over the lanes to help, state police said. Sauter tended to a woman whose airway was blocked by blood. She was airlifted to a hospital and survived, state police said.