Wrong-way driver involved in I-94 crash that killed ISP Trooper Gerald Ellis identified

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Monday, April 1, 2019
Wrong-way driver involved in crash that killed ISP trooper ID'd
There will be increased patrols and enforcement zones across Illinois as part of a crackdown on drivers caught using handheld devices.

LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- A wrong-way driver killed in a crash that also killed an Illinois State Police trooper on over the weekend was identified Monday.

Dan Davies, 44, of Calumet City, was identified to the Lake County Coroner's Office as the wrong-way driver in a Saturday crash on I-94 near north suburban Libertyville.

Lake County Coroner Dr. Howard Cooper said an autopsy performed Monday showed Davies died from multiple injuries due to a car crash. Toxicology results are pending.

RELATED: Illinois State Police Trooper Gerald Ellis dies after being hit by wrong-way driver near Libertyville

Illinois State Police Trooper Gerald Ellis, 36, was on-duty in his squad car when he was hit by a wrong-way driver near Libertyville.

Trooper Gerald Ellis, 36, was on-duty in his squad car traveling home on westbound I-94 just east of the IL-176 exit when Davies, who was traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes, struck him head on.

Ellis was transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center with life-threatening injuries, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy performed Saturday showed he died from multiple injuries due to a car crash. Toxicology results are pending.

"We have met with Trooper Ellis' family and our deepest condolences go out to them. His death is truly a tragedy for his family, the Illinois State Police, and law enforcement everywhere," Cooper said.

An investigation by Illinois State Police and the Lake County Coroner's Office is ongoing.

Ellis is the third ISP trooper killed in a crash since the beginning of 2019.

RELATED: ISP Trooper Brooke Jones-Story fatally struck in crash in Freeport

The body of Trooper Ellis was escorted Saturday by law enforcement to the coroner's office in Waukegan.

"While the men and women of the Illinois State Police are still grieving our recent loss, it is with profound heartache and unfathomable sadness that we inform you of the death of another fallen trooper, Trooper Gerald Ellis," said Illinois State Police Acting Director Brendan Kelly. "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."


Acting ISP Director Brendan Kelly holds press conference on trooper killed in wrong way crash Saturday morning.

Ellis was an 11-year veteran of the Illinois State Police District 15 in Downers Grove. He served in the military and is survived by a wife and two children.

"People need to understand and be aware of their actions at all times because one moment of distraction can devastate an entire family," said sister-in-law Tabitha Ellis.

Tabitha Ellis described her brother-in-law as "soft-spoken and big-hearted. Loved by anybody who knew him."

Just two days before, Illinois State Police Trooper Brooke Jones-Story was killed during a traffic stop near Rockford.

Illinois State Police Gerald Ellis, 36, was killed in a crash near Libertyville. (Photo courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times)

This is the second crash involving a state trooper in the past three days. In January, Trooper Christopher Lambert was killed during a traffic stop in Northbrook.

It's been 66 years since three troopers have been killed in a single year.

RELATED: ISP Trooper Christopher Lambert fatally struck on I-294 in Northbrook

Sixteen state troopers have been hit along Illinois roads so far in this year, which is double the total of eight troopers struck in all of 2018.

There will be increased patrols and enforcement zones across Illinois as part of a crackdown on drivers caught using handheld devices. April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

"Those who providing service to those of us in need and they lose their life for it. That's a violation of all laws of human decency. That should not occur," Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White said.

The head of the National Safety Council based in Itasca said distracted driving is becoming more commonplace and more dangerous. The council plans to release results later this week of a study showing the risks to emergency responders from distracted drivers. They call the results "alarming."

"They're putting themselves on the line every time they step out of the vehicle to save a life or to write a ticket. So we have to follow the laws that are on the books," said Nick Smith, the interim CEO of the National Safety Council.

"How many of these incidents could have been avoided if motorists were simply paying attention?" Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly asked.

State police said they have dramatically increased the number of tickets they've issued in Illinois for distracted driving and the Secretary of State said the penalty for the first offense will get more serious, counting as a moving violation, starting in July.

"Terrible things can happen. There of been terrible things happening here in Illinois and I'm not happy about it," Secretary White said.


Law enforcement escort the body of ISP Trooper Gerald Ellis to the Office of the Lake County Coroner in Waukegan Saturday morning.