Jeremy Gorner, Rosemary Sobol and Elvia Malagon Chicago Tribune

NORTHBROOK, Il. — An Illinois state trooper has been killed while on duty responding to a traffic crash on I-294 in the Northbrook area, state police and sources said.

Trooper Christopher Lambert was on his way home just before 4:45 p.m. when he came across a crash involving multiple cars on the northbound lanes of I-294 near Willow Road, said Leo Schmitz, director of Illinois State Police, during a news conference late Saturday. Schmitz described Lambert, 34, as making a “typical trooper move” when he stopped on the left shoulder to investigate the crash.

“He sees a three-vehicle crash, he positions his vehicle in the left-hand lanes so to save the lives of those people in the crash,” Schmitz said. “He was struck and lost his life while he was doing that.”

A motorist who had been traveling north hit Lambert while he was outside of his police car, Schmitz said. Lambert was standing alongside the original crash when he was struck, said Sgt. Jacqueline Cepeda, a spokesperson for state police.

“He died preventing others from injury,” Cepeda said.

A nurse who was on the scene performed CPR on Lambert until paramedics transported him to Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview. Lambert was pronounced dead at 7:24 p.m. Saturday, Schmitz said.

Lambert had been assigned to the Tollway District, according to a source familiar with the incident. He had been with the department for five years, Schmitz said. He is survived by his 1-year-old daughter, his wife and his parents.

Officers who worked closely with Lambert described him as a hard worker who was known for getting tasks done, Schmitz said.

“He was a go-getter,” said Trooper Duane Chappell, one of Lambert’s co-workers. “He worked really hard every single day for five years.”

The traffic crash remains under investigation, though Schmitz said Saturday’s snowfall could have played a role.

“We lost our trooper, we became weaker,” Schmitz said. “We lost one of our own, one of our best. Everybody loved him.”

The last Illinois State Police trooper killed while on duty was Ryan Albin, who died in June 2017 following a downstate highway crash involving a tractor-trailer near a construction zone.

On March 28, 2013, Trooper James Sauter, 28, of Vernon Hills, was killed while on-duty on I-294 near Northbrook. His police car had been parked on the shoulder of the southbound lanes when the driver of a semitractor-trailer slammed into it, authorities previously said. The impact pushed Sauter’s vehicle at least 500 feet along the median before it erupted into flames.


©2019 the Chicago Tribune

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