A well-liked K-9 police officer from Pontiac, Ill., was killed in an overnight crash on Interstate 55.
Officer Casey Kohlmeier was sitting in the median along I-55 shortly after midnight when he was struck by another vehicle, police chief James Woolford said.
The dog, Draco, was also killed.
"This is a hole we can't fill," Woolford said as he fought back tears.
He said Kohlmeier was 29 years old and had been with the department for the last six years. He was a veteran of the United States Air Force, the chief said.
Bob Russell, the mayor of the city in Livingston County, said he was informed of the crash shortly after midnight, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Woolford said Pontiac, located about 100 miles southwest of Chicago between Joliet and Bloomington, hadn't lost an officer in the line of duty for at least 19 years.
Kohlmeier was not married and had no children, Woolford said.
"The men and women of the Illinois State Police join me in offering sincere condolences to the Pontiac Police Department on the tragic loss of Police Officer Casey Kohlmeier and his beloved canine partner," ISP Director Hiram Grau said in a written statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are also extended to Officer Kohlmeier’s family, friends, fellow officers and the Pontiac community."
The driver of the other vehicle was hospitalized, but Illinois State Police officials declined to release any information because of the ongoing investigation, including as to whether they believed drugs or alcohol were involved in the crash.
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