CHICAGO (WLS) --An investigation is underway after an off-duty Chicago Police officer was killed when his motorcycle was struck by a car on the Dan Ryan Expressway Sunday afternoon.
Illinois State Police investigators say Tito Rodriguez was killed on his motorcycle after he was cut off by a driver. Rodriguez is described by a close friend as someone who had his act together and knew what he wanted out of life.
As Rodriguez's body arrived at the Cook County Medical Examiner, Chicago Police officers lined the street and saluted. The ambulance was also met by the Rodriguez's grieving family and friends.
The 28-year-old officer was off duty, possibly on his way to work, when he was killed on his motorcycle. On the force for only a year, Rodriguez's roommate says his lifelong dream was to be a cop.
"He's really so many steps ahead of everybody his age, he's a real straight shooter, honest," Roger Steele said.
Steele and Rodriguez had been friends since they were 6 years old. Steele says Rodriguez loved riding his motorcycle.
"He's the reason I started riding motorcycles," Steele said. "The times we rode together, he was wearing a helmet."
It is not known if Rodriguez was wearing a helmet Sunday. He and two friends, also on motorcycles, were riding southbound on the Dan Ryan near 69th Street. Police say Rodriguez was hit when the driver of a red Pontiac was attempting to make an abrupt lane change to avoid missing the 71st Street exit. Rodriguez collided with the car after he was cut off.
"Someone cut someone off, and to swerve one hit the other, and then the worst thing in the world happened," said witness Gene Campbell. "I understand he was dragged at least 20 feet down the expressway."
For almost four hours, the 71st Street exit ramp and 67th Street entrance ramp were closed while police investigated. Rodriguez's riding friends sat on a guard rail and watched in disbelief. Steele says he will always remember his friend as grounded compassionate person who had so much to live for.
"He's going to be irreplaceable as a friend. That's just on my level. I can only imagine what his family's going through," he said.
Steele said that Rodriguez was very close to his parents, an older sister and a younger brother.
Meanwhile, 50-year-old Dennis Anderson, the driver of the Pontiac has been charged with an improper lane change, as well as no valid insurance.