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Illinois Trooper Seriously Injured on Highway

A tollway maintenance worker was killed and an Illinois State Trooper suffered serious injuries when a semi truck ran into their vehicles Monday night on Interstate 88.

The crash happened about 9:45 p.m. near Eola Road in Aurora.

The state trooper and the maintenance worker were stopped to assist a disabled semitrailer about a quarter mile when a semitrailer hit all three vehicles, Illinois State Police Spokeswoman Monique Bond said.

Another semi hit the vehicles and they burst into flames, Bond said. The maintenance worker was pronounced dead at the scene and the trooper taken to an area hospital, Bond said.

The Illinois Tollway identified the worker as 39-year-old Vincent Petrella, who started his career in 2001 as a toll collector and ahs been an operator laborer since 2005. He was a father of two, according to the agency.

"Our roadway maintenance workers are on our roadways 24/7 to serve customers across our 286-mile system of tollways," Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said in a statement from the agency. "They plow snow, maintain our roadways and, most importantly, are the first ones on the scene to help drivers in need. It was during what should ahve been a routine job that things went horribly wrong."

Tollway Spokeswoman Wendy Abrams said the Tollway truck that was hit was a "large body truck with (a) crew cab an arrow board." The truck was a stake-body truck with portable signs and an arrow on the back to direct traffic, she aid.

Two dozen Illinois State Police cars took part in a procession escorting the injured trooper from a west suburban hospital to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. Two Maywood police vehicles blocked traffic on Roosevelt Road as the procession sped by about 2:10 a.m. Tuesday.

State police closed eastbound Interstate 290 while escorting the ambulance.

Three pieces of fire equipment and dozens of squad cars remained as of about scene about 10:35 p.m.

Nobody is being allowed to enter Interstate 88 at Farnsworth Road and traffic heading east is being diverted off there.

Closer to the accident, six Aurora police cars blocked the eastbound entry to Interstate 88 from Diehl Road, an east-west street where motorists can enter the tollway just west of Eola Road.

The Illinois Tollway hopes to have two lanes of traffic open by 6 a.m. but crews are still at the scene investigating.

This crash is the second time in ten months that a semitrailer crashed into a parked state police car. Trooper James Sauter was killed in March on Interstate 294 near Willow Road when a semitrailer crashed into his car.

Sauter was stopped on the interstate shoulder when he was hit. A trucker from Wisconsin was charged in his death.

Copyright 2014 - Chicago Tribune

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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