An Illinois state trooper has died after being involved in a head-on crash on I-94 westbound near Libertyville early Saturday morning.
The trooper was identified as 36-year-old Gerald Ellis—an 11-year veteran of the Illinois State Police District 15 in Downers Grove.
The incident took place around 3:25 a.m., police said. Ellis "was on-duty in his squad car traveling home on I-94 westbound near milepost 16.75 in Green Oaks, when a wrong-way driver, who was traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes, struck Trooper Ellis head on," the press release stated.
Ellis was transported to a nearby hospital and was pronounced dead just after 4 a.m., the Libertyville Fire Department said.
The driver and sole occupant of the other vehicle involved in the accident also succumbed to his injuries, Acting Director Brendan Kelly said.
Trooper Ellis left behind a wife, two children, parents and a brother. A source close to the family says he attended Western Illinois University after serving in Iraq.
According to Illinois State Police, donations may be made to Ellis' family by visiting the Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation website, or via U.S. mail to the following address:
Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation
P.O. Box 8168
Springfield, IL 62791
"By doing what he did today he saved lives," said Kelly in a press conference. "On behalf of the governor and the people of this state, it is nearly impossible to express the depth of my sadness and condolences to the entire Ellis family his friends and the ISP family."
A procession was set to take place Saturday morning, leaving from intersection of US Route 21 (Milwaukee Avenue) and Condell Drive (Libertyville, IL) to the Lake County Coroner's Office, police said.
“I ask everyone to consider the fragility of life each and every time you get behind the wheel of a vehicle,” Kelly went on to say.
The crash comes two days after Trooper Brooke Jones-Story was struck and killed by a semitrailer near Rockford.
This is the second ISP trooper killed in two days and the third killed out of 17 struck this year, authorities confirmed.
“Not since 1997 has the Illinois State Police lost two troopers in this many days. It has been 66 years since we have lost three troopers in a single year and it’s still only March," Kelly expressed. “But know this, our hearts may be broken but our resolve is not.”
The investigation remains ongoing.