A tollway worker died and a trooper was critically injured in a crash on the Interstate 88 Reagan Memorial Tollway.
The wreck happened at about 9:45 p.m. Monday, January 27, 2014 on eastbound lanes of I-88 about a quarter-mile east of Eola Road in Aurora.
A spokesperson for Illinois State Police said 39-year-old Vincent Petrella and a state trooper had stopped their vehicles so they could help a disabled tractor-trailer when another semi struck all three stopped vehicles.
The wreckage then burst into flames.
Petrella, who was on duty as a tollway maintenance worker, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.
The trooper, 38-year-old Douglas Balder, was taken by ambulance to an area hospital. He was initially reported in critical condition. He was later reported to be in serious condition, and he was expected to recover according to Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau.
“Our roadway maintenance workers are on our roadways 24/7 to serve customers across our 286-mile system of tollways. They plow snow, maintain our roadways and, most importantly, are the first on the scene to help drivers in need. It was during what should have been a routine job that things went horribly wrong,” said a statement from the Illinois Tollway.
Petrella was an equipment operator who had worked for the Illinois Tollway since 2001.
Balder has been a member of the Illinois State Police since 2007.
“Vincent Petrella is a hero. Both he and the injured State Trooper were doing heroic work – assisting their fellow citizens in an emergency. Both men were committed to keeping our roads safe and to helping those in need,” said a statement from Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.
The governor said he ordered the state’s flags to be flown at half staff in honor of Vincent Petrella.