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April 01, 2019

Illinois Police Trooper Killed by Driver Slamming into His Squad Car, Marking 2nd Death in 3 Days

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Early on Sunday, an Illinois State Police trooper was killed after being involved in a crash. A wrong-way driver killed the cop who was in his squad car.

The trooper became the second official to die in the state in a matter of days. Since the year began, three officers have died in Illinois.

Illinois State Police (ISP) Trooper Gerald Ellis, 36, was traveling home at 3:25 a.m. on Interstate 94 westbound near milepost 16.75 in Green Oaks when a wrong-way driver hit him head-on. The driver was traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes near Libertyville in the north suburbs.  

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The trooper was taken to a local area hospital with life-threatening injuries. Tragically, he died from his injuries and was pronounced dead at about 4 a.m.

The wrong-way driver also died and it hasn’t been determined why the driver was driving in the wrong lane. Ellis’ body was escorted by law enforcement to the Lake County Coroner's Office in Waukegan.

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ISP Acting Director Brendan Kelly said:

"While the men and women of the Illinois State Police are still grieving our recent loss, it is with profound heartache and unfathomable sadness that we inform you of the death of another fallen trooper, Trooper Gerald Ellis. Trooper Ellis laid down his life while protecting the citizens of this state. We are asking the public to respectfully give consideration to the family of Trooper Ellis and the ISP while we continue to process and work through this tragedy."

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The slain trooper had been an 11-year veteran of the ISP District 15 in Downers Grove. He served in the military and is survived by a wife and two children.

His sister-in-law, Tabitha Ellis, said:

"People need to understand and be aware of their actions at all times because one moment of distraction can devastate an entire family."

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She described him as "soft-spoken and big-hearted. Loved by anybody who knew him." Two days before Ellis’ accident, ISP Trooper Brooke Jones-Story, 34, was killed during a traffic stop in Freeport near Rockford.

In January, Trooper Christopher Lambert, 34, was killed during a traffic stop in Northbrook. The last time three troopers died in a single year was 66 years ago.

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So far, 16 state troopers have been struck along Illinois roads this year. The amount has doubled from a total of 8 troopers who were struck in 2018.

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In a press conference on Sunday, Kelly asked: "How many more of these tragedies have to occur at the hands of drivers making dangerous choices behind the wheel.” He added: "This loss is bitter salt in an open wound.”

Jones-Story, 34, was the 15th crash this year involving a state law enforcement vehicle. An act called Scott’s Law has been pushed by state officials in the effort to get drivers to slow down and change lanes for stationary emergency vehicles that have their warning lights turned on.

The act was named after Lambert who died while responding to a three-car crash.

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