GREEN OAKS, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -- Another Illinois State Police trooper was killed in a crash with a wrong-way driver early Saturday in north suburban Green Oaks, marking the latest casualty for a police force that has seen a massive spike in traffic collisions with patrollers this year.
Trooper Gerald Ellis, 36, was on duty and about to head home in his police SUV about 3:25 a.m. on Interstate 94 when a vehicle traveling east in the westbound lanes struck him head on, according to Illinois State Police.
Ellis — an 11-year veteran of District 15 in Downers Grove, which patrols Illinois tollways — was taken to Condell Medical Center in Libertyville and pronounced dead at 4:04 a.m.
The wrong-way driver, identified Monday as 44-year-old Dan Davies, was also killed in the crash, state police and the Lake County coroner’s office said. He lived in Calumet City.
Autopsies found both men died from multiple injuries related to the crash, the coroner’s office said. Their toxicology results were pending.
Ellis is the third trooper to die after being struck by another vehicle this year — and the second in three days, following the Thursday death of 34-year-old Trooper Brooke Jones-Story, who was hit by a semitrailer near Rockford.
It’s been about 22 years since two Illinois troopers were killed in such a short timeframe, and 66 years since the force has suffered three trooper deaths in a single year, ISP Acting Director Brendan Kelly said.
Kelly called his department’s latest on-duty death “bitter salt in an open wound.”
“I ask everyone to consider the fragility of life each and every time you get behind the wheel of a vehicle,” he said. “How many more of these tragedies have to occur at the hands of drivers making dangerous choices behind the wheel? When will drivers open their eyes to the dangers they face and take them seriously?”