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Commander pays tribute to fallen trooper killed on I-55

(MCT) — COLLINSVILLE — Trooper Kyle Deatherage had just returned from New Jersey, where he volunteered to help victims of Hurricane Sandy, when he was killed on the side of Interstate 55 in a traffic accident, his commanding officer said Wednesday.

"He was just back after the cleanup of Hurricane Sandy. He was the first to volunteer, even though he had a wife and two young children at home," said Capt. Scott Compton, commander of Illinois State Police District 18 in Litchfield.

Deatherage died at the scene of the accident shortly after 9 a.m. Monday.

Compton and other officers held a news conference Wednesday at the ISP District 11 headquarters in Collinsville to announce funeral arrangements and a fund to help the late trooper's family.

"He didn't say a lot," Compton said about Deatherage. "He was a man of quiet confidence and compassion."

He said Deatherage, 32, had doubled over from his usual night shift because it was a chance to patrol on a State Police motorcycle, a duty he truly enjoyed.

"They (motorcycle troopers) are a very dedicated group," Compton said.

Deatherage had just completed his training to be a motorcycle trooper in August.

Saturday's service in Troy possibly will include 600 officers, plus a squad of motorcycle patrol officers and other motorcycle clubs, such as the Patriot Guard.

Compton said a fund to benefit Deatherage's family was established at the Scott Credit Union, 12455 Highway 143, Highland, IL 62249. Further information is available at (618) 345-1000.

Deatherage lived in nearby St. Jacob with his wife, Sarah, and two children, Kaylee, 4, and Camden, 10 months old.

His funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Triad High School, in Troy, where he graduated in 1998. Burial will be in Marine Cemetery, in Marine. Visitation will be from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Friday at the school, 703 U.S. Highway 40, and from 9 a.m. Saturday until the service.

Deatherage was hit by a passing tractor-trailer and killed Monday morning during a traffic stop on I-55 near Litchfield.

Compton said Wednesday that Deatherage had been on the interstate's shoulder. He noted that each police motorcycle is equipped with flashing lights and a siren.

He reminded people there is a state law, Scott's Law, requiring motorists to slow down and take additional precautions when in the vicinity of flashing red lights of an emergency vehicle.

Compton declined to give any details on an ongoing investigation into the accident or whether any charges will be filed. A group of officers from outside District 18 is conducting an investigation, he said.

Deatherage received his associate's degree in criminal justice at Lewis and Clark Community College.

He had been a state trooper since 2009. Deatherage previously had been a Madison County sheriff's deputy and, before that, a Staunton police officer. He was a lifelong resident of St. Jacob.

"He was a model trooper who others strived to emulate," Compton said.

"His work ethic and dedication and commitment will be difficult to match," said Compton, fighting back tears.

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