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Comrades Pay Respects To Fallen State Trooper

Illinois State Police personnel comfort each other at the visitation of James Sauter. (CBS)

Illinois State Police personnel comfort each other at the visitation of James Sauter. (CBS)

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(CBS) – Members of the Illinois state police, their Chicago counterparts and firefighters gathered Monday to pay their respects to a trooper killed in a fiery crash on Tri-State Tollway last week.

Illinois State Police Trooper James Sauter (Credit: ISP)

Illinois State Police Trooper James Sauter (Credit: ISP)

A steady stream of uniformed professionals flowed into Moraine Valley Church in Palos Heights during the visitation of James Sauter, 28. The husband and Vernon Hills resident died Thursday night when a semi-tractor-trailer truck slammed into his police cruiser on the left shoulder of I-294 at Northbrook.

Sauter’s friend and fellow trooper, Ray Kurut, said the fallen officer was unique in how he handled people.

“I’ve been present when Jim has handled rough customers, so to speak, and the majority – 99.9 percent of the time – all contact ended on that kind of note: ‘Thanks, trooper. Sorry, trooper. Hey, I’ll do better, trooper,’” Kurut told CBS 2’s Mike Parker.

Sauter, who joined the state police in 2008, had been helping a motorist on Interstate 94 before he returned to patrol duties on the tollway. He had been parked in the left-hand shoulder of the road when the semi hit his vehicle, causing a fire.

The truck driver was ticketed, and an investigation continues.

Sauter’s funeral service will be at Moraine Valley Church at 11 a.m. Tuesday.