Morris, IL – Cook County Police Officer Ronald Prohaska was killed in a fiery collision after he stopped to help a stranded motorist on Sunday afternoon.
The off-duty officer pulled over near the Illinois River Bridge at approximately 4 p.m. to help a driver whose vehicle stalled on the southbound incline, WMAQ reported.
As he was working under the hood of the disabled vehicle, a third vehicle slammed into the stalled car.
The broke-down vehicle burst into flames, and the blaze quickly spread to the other two vehicles, WMAQ reported.
Officer Prohaska, 50, was airlifted to Good Samaritan Hospital, where he died of his injuries.
Additional crash victims – including the veteran officer’s seven-year-old daughter – were transported to Morris Hospital for treatment.
She remained hospitalized in stable condition on Monday, according to WMAQ.
Officer Prohaska’s other daughter was also in the vehicle at the time of the crash.
Two other victims were treated for their injuries and released.
The driver of the vehicle that caused the fatal collision has been identified as Matthew Taylor.
Taylor was cited for failure to reduce speed, and Morris police officers are investigating whether or not he might have also been using a cell phone prior to the crash, WMAQ reported.
Officer Prohaska’s law enforcement career began in 1994, when he joined the Cook County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) as a correctional officer, WMAQ reported.
In August of 2004, he was hired as an officer with the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department (CCSPD), and was serving in the fugitive warrants unit at the time of his tragic death.
"Our hearts are broken and our deepest condolences to his family and friends,” the CCSO said in a statement to WMAQ.
His longtime friend, Carolyn Giannopolous, said that Officer Prohaska was “the epitome of the type of friend you want in this world,” WMAQ reported.
Officer Prohaska is survived by his two daughters.
"Ron was down to early, family man, loved his girls," his friend, Cheryl Hintz, told WLS. "I mean, just a great guy…that’s just what he did. If you needed help, he would help you no matter what.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Cook County Sheriff’s Police Officer Ronald Prohaska, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.