State police are remembering Trooper Gerald Ellis, who was killed two years ago today when he used his squad car to hit a wrong-way drunk driver, saving an entire family traveling in a nearby car on I-94.
Illinois State Police said that Trooper Ellis was on-duty around 3:25 a.m. March 30, 2019, traveling home in his squad car on westbound Interstate 94 near mile marker 16.75 in Green Oaks. A wrong-way driver was traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes.
Trooper Ellis saw the vehicle, which was being driven by Dan Davies, 44, of Calumet City, traveling the wrong way.
Ellis moved his squad car into the lane Davies was traveling in order to block the car from hitting anyone else.
Trooper Ellis crashed head-on with the wrong-way driver and was transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville where he was later pronounced dead.
Davies, who was under the influence of alcohol, also died in the crash.
“Trooper Gerald Ellis you are my HERO. This officer paid the ultimate sacrifice early this morning and saved my daughter’s life,” Carrie Kay said in a Facebook post in March.
“She was traveling home from Washington D.C. with a family she babysits for. From what we were told Trooper Ellis was directly ahead of them two lanes over and moved his squad car into their lane to block a wrong way driver on interstate I-94 in Illinois from hitting the car she was in,” Kay said.
“Thank you God and Officer Ellis for letting her and the others in that car come back home to us. We are so ever grateful to you,” Kay added.
Trooper Ellis was an 11-year veteran of the Illinois State Police District 15 in Downers Grove. He was also a veteran of the United States Military. He left behind a wife, two children, his parents and his brother.
A half-mile stretch of highway on Interstate 94 from mile marker 16.5 to 17 in Green Oaks was officially dedicated as Trooper Gerald W. Ellis Memorial Highway in October 2019.
A non-profit organization paid off the mortgage for the Ellis family in December 2020.
Stacy Ellis, the wife of Trooper Gerald “Jerry” Ellis, said in December she is grateful that the Tunnel to Towers Foundation is there to assist grieving families.
“Jerry always made sure our family was safe and all our needs were met. It feels that way even after his death. It’s a reminder of the man Jerry was and the career he chose,” Stacy Ellis said.
“Jerry loved his job, it was his second family. This foundation is an extension of this family. A reminder that he will always be remembered and loved,” she added.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation paid off Stacy Ellis’s mortgage in full. They also paid off the mortgages on five other fallen officers’ homes as part of their 2020 Season of Hope Campaign, which was delivering 36 mortgage-free homes in 36 days.
Stacy Ellis said their home represents that he “had made it.” He grew up in poverty and owning his own home was his dream.
“He finished the basement with my dad, he built the deck with his friends, he remodeled the bathrooms on his own and we painted each room together,” she said. “This program will allow me to continue to raise the girls in the home he built.”