Chris Green and Derrick Mason Rockford Register Star, Ill.
FREEPORT, Ill. — An Illinois State Police trooper who died Thursday in the line of duty was a wife and mother.
Trooper Brooke Jones-Story, 34, was pronounced dead at the scene after she was struck by a semitrailer during a traffic stop on U.S. Highway 20 about a half mile west of Illinois Route 75.
Jones-Story, 34, was outside her squad car investigating a commercial motor vehicle on U.S. 20 westbound when she was hit by the truck at about 12:20 p.m., authorities said. The semi struck both Jones-Story's squad car and the commercial vehicle before it collided with the trooper.
"My deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathy go out to the entire Jones-Story family and her friends, and the entire Illinois State Police family," said Acting State Police Director Brendan F. Kelly. "Today, trooper Jones-Story paid the ultimate sacrifice while protecting and serving the citizens of Illinois. Our law enforcement family is mourning the loss of a fallen sister."
Jones-Story was a 12-year veteran of the Illinois State Police District 16 in Pecatonica. She leaves behind her husband, retired ISP Master Sgt. Robert Story, two stepchildren, a step-grandchild, her parents and a sister.
Jones-Story is the second Illinois State Trooper to die in the line of duty in the last 75 days and the 15th struck by a vehicle this year due to a Scott's Law violation, Kelly said. In 2018, eight troopers were struck by drivers who violated the law, which mandates that drivers reduce speed and change lanes, if possible, when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped along the roadway.
Kelly stressed that Jones-Story followed procedure by positioning her squad car behind the commercial vehicle and activating her emergency lights.
"These troopers are just doing their job trying to protect everyone," Kelly said. "How many times does this have to happen?
"How many more have to be hurt or killed? When is enough, enough?"
Kelly said both the commercial vehicle and the semi were engulfed in flames, but no other injuries were reported as a result of the crash. The driver of the vehicle that veered off the road has been cited with a violation of Scott's Law and improper lane usage.
Stephenson County State's Attorney Carl Larson said an investigation will determine whether the driver will face additional charges. The driver currently is in police custody.
"This event is being investigated by some really outstanding investigators, and I know they'll do a meticulous job," Larson said. "Once their reports are in, we'll review them and at that point determine what, if any, additional charges are appropriate."
There seems to be no common denominator in incidents in which troopers are struck by motorists, Kelly said. The violations have occurred at all times of the day, in various weather conditions and in different locations, he said.
"The only explanation is not that our troopers are doing anything wrong or there's some policy issue that's a problem, or there's some equipment issues," he said. "This is just about people caring about what they're doing and paying attention to what they're doing."
At least 10 law enforcement agencies were part of a procession of squad cars that escorted a Stephenson County Coroner's vehicle carrying the body of Jones-Story from the scene of the crash to the county morgue.
©2019 Rockford Register Star, Ill.