Wis. man charged in I-294 crash that killed Ill. state trooper

November 13, 2013 (SKOKIE, Ill.)

Andrew Brian Bokelman, 25, of Lomira, Wis., is charged with violating a number of commercial trucking regulations. The March crash killed Illinois State Trooper James Sauter, 28, in the line of duty when he was struck by a truck tractor-semi trailer, an Illinois State Police news release indicated. Bokelman was en route to Louisville, Ky.

Regulations prohibit drivers from operating a vehicle when they're fatigued, driving more than 14 consecutive hours without taking 10 hours off and making false reports about their duties.

Sauter had his vehicle idling on the shoulder of Interstate 294 when Bokelman's truck struck it from behind. Authorities say the impact pushed the trooper's vehicle at least 500 feet and caused it to erupt in flames.

Bokelman turned himself in to Illinois State Police Wednesday. A judge set bond at $125,000.

It took nearly eight months to file charges. More than 50 state police troopers showed up at the Skokie courthouse in support of Sauter.

Bokelman's truck was loaded with 9,000 pounds of fossil fuel and was seen drifting to the left before hitting Sauter's vehicle. Prosecutors said Bokelman tried and failed to rescue the trooper.

Bokelman had no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the accident. If convicted, he faces anywhere from one to three years in prison.

"Today was about supporting Jim's family and supporting Jim. There were 50-plus by my count. These officers were here on their own time. That's the kind of man Jim was," said Major Joseph Perez, Illinois State Police.

Bokelman had only obtained his CDL six month before the accident.

"I don't know if the middle of this case is when this discussion should start, but if truckers are going to violate these laws the penalties should be stiffer," Perez said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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