Family, friends say goodbye to IL state trooper killed on I-294 - KMSP-TV

Trooper James Sauter, killed in I-294 crash, laid to rest

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Illinois State Trooper James Sauter. (Photo courtesy of Illinois State Police) Illinois State Trooper James Sauter. (Photo courtesy of Illinois State Police)
PALOS HEIGHTS, Ill. (FOX 32 News) -

Funeral services were held in south suburban Palos Heights Tuesday morning, for an Illinois state trooper killed in the line of duty.

James Sauter, 28, was killed in a fiery car wreck on I-294 last week, which police called a "horrific accident."

Sauter had just finished helping another motorist when his idling cruiser was struck by a semi-tractor trailer near Willow Road. Both vehicles burst into flames. The truck left no skid marks, pushing his squad car some 300 yards. Investigators are still trying to determine if his emergency lights were on at the time of the crash.

The driver survived the Tri-State Tollway crash. He is not being identified, pending results of the investigation.

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Family, friends and fellow police officers arrived at Morraine Valley Church to pay their respects on Tuesday. Hundreds were in attendance to remember a man who loved people.

"As a person, as well as a trooper, he was very outgoing, had an infectious smile and he'll be missed," trooper Mark Karczewski said.

The funeral was conducted in full military style, a grand display that law enforcement uses to show the family that they are not alone in their grief.

State troopers from Alaska, Florida, New York and Texas came to honor their late comrade. Friends and colleagues said Tuesday was a very sad day for the entire state.

Friends said the trooper from Vernon Hills had spoken about becoming a law enforcement officer since he was a boy. Early in his career, he established himself as a role model and devoted officer, who saved a life while still a cadet in training. He became a trooper in 2008.

Sauter was a pilot, but he worked on the road because he loved working with people. The 28-year-old is being remembered as a dedicated public servant devoted his time to helping others.

"I think returning to the road was a good fit for Jim," Karczewski said. "He enjoyed working with other troopers, having an opportunity to work with people."

Colleagues said he was the kind of man you would want to be in law enforcement, that he led a courageous life and was highly regarded by his peers. Friends said he had an infectious smile that they will miss.

"He got thanked, I heard it and saw it more than once, he got thanked by people when they got a ticket," commander Joe Perez said. "That's the kind of personality he had when he dealt with the public. Just exactly what we wanted a police officer to be."

State troopers told FOX 32 News that they know of the dangers of their job, yet they go out every day to work for the public. His colleagues said crashes are a part of life for people who work on the street. One friend said Trooper Sauter had been involved in four crashes, the last one ending his career.

By all accounts, Trooper Sauter was a beloved man, and will be remembered as such.

The church extends its sympathy to the family, and have lowered their flags for the day.

Sauter is survived by his wife.

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