Dozens show support to Doug Balder, state trooper injured in I-88 crash

There was a big show of support for Doug Balder, the state trooper injured in a fiery crash on I-88 last month.
February 19, 2014 8:48:22 PM PST
There was a big show of support for Doug Balder, the state trooper injured in a fiery crash on I-88 last month.

Doug Balder was badly hurt in the accident that claimed the life of a tollway worker. He remains hospitalized at Loyola University Medical Center.

Trooper Balder is stabilized and breathing on his own according to a spokesperson for the Illinois State Police. As he continues to recovered, dozens of people gathered in Chicago to show their support for him.

Tonight, Douglas Balder is on their minds. Some know him as a trooper.

"All of our hopes and prayers are with him now. I have no doubt he's going to get through this," said Trooper Ray Kurut, Illinois State Police.

Others know him as a Senior Chief in the Navy reserves, seen here during a welcome home celebration last summer.

"He's going to be a survivor, that's just who he is," said Nathan Taylor, Navy reservist.

Dozens of his friends and co-workers attend this fundraiser hoping somehow, someway, it will help Balder, his wife, and children.

"We are trying to help out their family the best we can. They know we are supporting them. They know they can count on us and we're grateful to be there for them," said Lt. Bob Meeder, Illinois State Police.

Last month, Balder and Illinois Tollway worker Vincent Petrella responded to help a stranded semi driver on the shoulder of I-88 when investigators say another truck driver, Renato Velasquez, slammed into the stopped vehicles, even though police lights were flashing. Petrella died, but Balder crawled from his burning car.

"He's had a few setbacks, but at the same time he's a fighter because after the setbacks we've had nothing but progress," said Dennis Trejo, Navy Reservist.

Velasquez-- who is out on bond -- faces four felonies. But on Wednesday night, it's a show of support for Trooper Balder.

"It's why he does what he does for the State Police, to help others," said Matthew Aiyash, Pazzo's owner. "All we can do is pray for him and hope for the best."

An Illinois State Police spokesperson says they are working aggressively with their law enforcement partners to come up with a public safety campaign to focus on making sure drivers stay alert at all times.


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