Illinois State Trooper Kyle Deatherage of St. Jacob, who was killed in the line of duty Monday, really enjoyed being a motorcycle trooper, according to District 18 Commander Captain Scott Compton.
Compton said Deatherage, 32, enjoyed it so much he adjusted his schedule to work the day shift Monday so he could ride his motorcycle. Deatherage usually worked the midnight shift, according to Compton.
Deatherage underwent training in August to become a motorcycle trooper.
Compton was emotional during a news conference Wednesday afternoon when he talked about Deatherage, who was killed by a tractor-trailer during a traffic stop Monday morning on Interstate 55 near Litchfield.
"He was taken from us much too soon," said Compton, who was Deatherage's commander for the last year and a half.
Compton described Deatherage as a "model trooper. His work ethic and dedication to Illinois State Police and the citizens he served was commendable and difficult to match," he said. "We would like to have a thousand of him."
Compton said Deatherage was always willing to help others. "He was always willing to go out of his way to help people," Compton said. "He was very kind and courteous."
Deatherage recently returned from an assignment to the East Coast to help those impacted by Superstorm Sandy. "He volunteered to go there on a moment's notice," Compton said.
Compton provided few details about Deatherage's death as the investigation into the accident is ongoing. He said Deatherage stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation and was standing on the shoulder of the roadway near the motorist's vehicle when he was struck and killed. Deatherage was pronounced dead at the scene.
"We'll find out how it happened. We'll find out what happened," Compton said, "but we'll never know why it happened."
There was no word Wednesday if the driver of the tractor-trailer will face any charges.
"Everyone who chooses law enforcement as a career knows the dangers that may occur," Compton said. "They accept those dangers when choosing a life to serve others."
Compton advised motorists who see flashing lights ahead to slow down, be aware of their surroundings and change lanes if possible.
"We would like to think all tragedies like this can be avoided," Compton said.
A memorial fund has been established at Scott Credit Union, located at 12455 State Route 143 in Highland, for the trooper's family. Deatherage is survived by his wife, Sarah, and the couple's two small children, Kaylee, 4, and Camden, 10 months old. Memorial contributions may also be made to the scholarship fund for his children's education or the Kyle W. Deatherage Criminal Justice Scholarship Fund at Triad High School.
"The family needs a lot of prayers and support," Compton said.
Services for Deatherage will be held Friday and Saturday at his alma mater, Triad High School in Troy. Visitation will begin at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the school and be held again from 9 a.m. Saturday until the service.
A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday with burial following at Marine Cemetery in Marine.
Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.