Illinois State Trooper Gerald Ellis had only one chance to stop a person driving the wrong way on highway 1-94 — by using his own squad car to crash into the speeding car head-on.
With a family traveling in a car nearby, Ellis acted quickly, driving his car in the way of the wrong-way driver and sparking a crash that took his life. As the Lake and McHenry County Scanner reported, Ellis was killed in the early morning hours on Saturday, and the person in the other vehicle was killed as well.
After the trooper’s death, a woman named Carrie Kay posted on Facebook calling Ellis a hero and saying that his actions saved the life of her daughter and daughter’s family, who would have been in the path of the wrong-way car. Kay explained that the family was returning from a trip to Washington and could have been killed by the wrong-way driver were it not for the actions of Trooper Ellis.
“She was traveling home from Washington D.C. with a family she babysits for. From what we were told Trooper Ellis was directly ahead of them two lanes over and moved his squad car into their lane to block a wrong way driver on interstate I-94 in Illinois from hitting the car she was in,” Kay wrote.
Ellis’s death was announced by Illinois State Police Acting Director Brendan Kelly, who made note of his final act of sacrifice.
“Trooper Ellis laid down his life while protecting the citizens of this state. We are asking the public to respectfully give consideration to the family of Trooper Ellis and the ISP while we continue to process and work through this tragedy,” Kelly said.
The crash remains under investigation, and police did not yet say why the driver ended up going the wrong way on Interstate I-94. The victim killed in the wrong-way car had also not yet been identified.
Gerald Ellis is now the second Illinois state trooper to be killed in a roadside accident this week. As ABC News reported, 34-year-old Brooke Jones-Story was killed earlier in the week when she was struck by a semi-tractor while she was inspecting another tractor-trailer.
A tragic few days for the @ILStatePolice as they mourn the line-of-duty deaths of Trooper Gerald Ellis and Trooper Brooke Jones-Story who were both killed during vehicle collisions two days apart. We send our deepest condolences to their families and fellow troopers. #NeverForget pic.twitter.com/5GdDHmCJTz— Chief Terence Monahan (@NYPDChiefofDept) March 30, 2019
The series of deaths have prompted an outpouring of condolences from politicians across the state, including Governor J.B. Pritzker, who released a statement commending the sacrifice of Ellis.
Trooper Gerald Ellis was an 11-year veteran of the Illinois State Police and left behind a wife and two children.