Mourners gathered Tuesday to remember an Illinois Tollway employee who was killed while helping the driver of a disabled tractor trailer on Interstate 88 near Aurora last week.
Vincent Petrella, 39, was an equipment operator with the Illinois Tollway since 2005 and began his career as a toll collector, officials said.
He and Illinois State Police Trooper Douglas J. Balder were assisting the driver of a disabled tractor trailer in the eastbound lanes of the interstate at about 9:45 p.m. Monday when they were struck by another tractor trailer.
Petrella was pronounced dead at the scene. He became the first Illinois Tollway employee since 2003 to be killed on the job.
Petrella's funeral was scheduled for Tuesday morning at The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Chicago, where family, friends and dignitaries, including Gov. Pat Quinn, came to remember him and his work.
"He was just a wonderful man," said coworker Dawn Rohrback.
A procession of Illinois Department of Transportation vehicles and Illinois State Police escorted Petrella's body from the funeral home Tuesday, with his tollway truck leading the way.
"Vincent Petrella was a hero," said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. "The people who do the work that he does have saved thousands of lives, and unfortunately we lost him."
Family friend Bonnie Stolinga said Petrella, a married man and father of two young children, was like a son to her.
"Look what he was doing. Serving somebody else, helping people. That's what he did for us and his family. He will be so missed," Stolinga said.
A truck driver from Hanover Park was charged following the crash with Class 4 felonies of operating a CMV while impaired/fatigued, false report of record and duty status, driving beyond the 14 hour rule, and driving beyond the 11 hour rule.
"People need to slow down," said Rohrback. "Truckers need to slow down. Stop if you're tired, don't continue driving."