An Illinois State Police trooper broke out a passenger side window of a smoking car after it struck a concrete barrier on the Tri-State Tollway in the south suburbs and pulled out the woman driver early Friday.
The District Chicago trooper, Zachary Peters, was on routine patrol at about 2:15 a.m. when he saw a silver, 2006 Nissan 4-door that had struck a concrete barrier on southbound I-294 at the Halsted Street Toll Plaza, state police said.
The Nissan was filled with smoke and the driver was inside unresponsive.
Because of severe wreckage on the driver’s side of the vehicle, Peters -- a 12-year veteran -- broke out the passenger-side window and pulled the woman out, authorities said.
The driver, 34-year-old Erin K. Murray, of Harvey, was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn where she remained in serious condition Friday afternoon.
Peters drove himself to St. James Hospital and Health Centers in Olympia Fields, where he was treated for smoke inhalation and minor cuts to both hands before being released.
"There are no words to describe how the brave and courageous men and women of this agency risk their lives every day so that others may live," ISP Director Hiram Grau said in a statement. "This trooper is no stranger to placing his life in danger and his selfless actions speak volumes to the dedication of his police service. We are grateful that he was able to go home to his family."
This is not the first time this trooper has confronted danger, the release said. He has been honored on several occasions for saving lives and confronting dangerous offenders, the release said.
According to the East Hazel Crest first responders on the scene, Peters' actions saved the driver’s life.
“It could have burst into flames, it could have been much (more) dangerous than what it was,” East Hazel Crest Fire Capt. Kevin Vallow said in the release.
The crash is believed to be alcohol-related and charges are pending against Murray, police said.