Photo: NBC Chicago
Partial scene of the fatal accident on Route 20 near Route 75 in Freeport, IL.

Trucking tragedy: An accident, a state trooper dead, a driver charged

April 22, 2019
Following ‘Move Over Law’ might have prevented this Illinois incident and others.

When Illinois State Police Trooper Brooke Jones-Story ordered a tractor-trailer to pull over for an inspection on the morning of March 28, it seemed like just another day and just another duty task for the married, 12-year veteran.

Sadly, it would be anything but that.

The trucker did as told on Route 20 near Route 75 in Freeport, IL. Jones-Story, 34, pulled up behind the rig in her cruiser, got out and started to work. About an hour later another tractor-trailer ran off the road, striking the squad car, the officer and the truck being inspected. Jones-Story was killed.

The man behind the wheel of the truck causing the accident, Craig W. Dittmar, 55, of Stockton, IL, would be charged with two counts of reckless homicide, both class 2 felonies, and one count of operating a commercial motor vehicle while fatigued, causing death, a class 3 felony.

Incredibly, it was the 15th time in 2019 alone than an Illinois State Police trooper or police squad car was struck in violation of Scott’s Law, which requires drivers to slow down and move over one lane, if possible, when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped on the roadway with flashing lights activated.

Known nationally as the Move Over Law, in Illinois it’s called Scott’s Law, a tribute to Lt. Scott Gillen, a Chicago firefighter was hit and killed 19 years ago by a drunk driver who didn’t move over so Gillen could do his job.

More Illinois state troopers have been injured in the first three months of 2019 than in each of the three previous years.

“How many times does this have to happen? How many more have to be hurt or killed? When is enough enough?” asked an aggrieved Illinois State Police Acting Director Brendan F. Kelly at a press conference shortly after the death of Jones-Story. “When are more people going to start giving a damn and just doing the right thing?

"Today is a dark day for the Illinois State Police family. This is the six-year anniversary of the death of another trooper, and now another brave soul, Trooper Brooke Jones-Story, has made the ultimate sacrifice for the people of this state."

Family releases statement

The family of Jones-Story released a statement days later:

“The family of Trooper Brooke Jones-Story celebrates a strong woman who dedicated her life to the service and protection of others. Brooke is a daughter, sister, wife, stepparent and cherished friend.

“Growing up in rural Illinois, Brooke loved her family, and her high school and college volleyball teams. Brooke always had a passion for service and committed herself to becoming a trooper. It was through that role that she gained her family in blue, met her husband and connected her personal and professional loves.

“When Brooke wasn’t working, she could be found working with rescue animals on her farm, cheering for the Cubs, working out with her CrossFit family and watching all the Disney movies she could find.

“This is a woman who embraced life and loved spending time with her beloved family and friends. A dedicated, courageous, loving and passionate officer and the absolute best person you could meet. Brooke will be sorely missed and is loved and celebrated for a life committed to her family and the service of others.”

About the Author

Michael Catarevas

An experienced, award-winning journalist and editor, Catarevas began his career in trade publishing, working at Chain Store Age Executive and National Home Center News. He also served as the longtime editor for two globally circulated fitness titles, Exercise & Health and Men’s Workout. He then moved to Tennis magazine and tennis.com as executive editor. He has also been a frequent freelance writer, contributing profiles, in-depth news stories, and features for Connecticut magazine and other publications. Before coming aboard at FleetOwner, he was managing editor for the New Canaan Advertiser newspaper. Catarevas previously wrote for FleetOwner. 

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