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Wife of critically injured state trooper thanks public for support

Updated: January 30, 2014 4:23PM

The wife of an Illinois State Trooper critically injured in a Reagan Memorial Tollway crash that killed a tollway worker is thanking well-wishers for their support.

Trooper Douglas J. Balder was critically hurt in the Monday crash on eastbound I-88 near Eola Road in Aurora that killed Vincent Petrella, the first Illinois Tollway employee since 2003 to be killed on the job.

“Words cannot express the outpouring of support, care and genuine concern that our family has received for Doug’s recovery,” Balder’s wife, Kim Balder, said in a statement released by Illinois State Police on Thursday.

“My husband is fighting for his life, and I know that there are few words that can comfort the grief of the Petrella family’s loss. Please know that your family has the sympathy and support from all of us, and may God embrace Vincent’s soul,” she said.

Douglas Balder, 38, was helping Petrella, 39, with a broken-down semitrailer truck in the right-hand lane and shoulder when a second semi hit them about 9:45 p.m. and engulfed them in flames.

Prosecutors said Balder suffered broken ribs, a broken shoulder and third-degree burns over 15 percent of his body. The trooper, who was in his car at the time of the crash, was able to climb to safety.

The driver of the second semi, Renato V. Velasquez, 46, of Hanover Park, was charged with four felony counts of operating a commercial motor vehicle while impaired or fatigued, making a false report of a record and duty status and driving beyond the 14- and 11-hour rules, according to Illinois State Police.

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