ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ill. — Two people, including a St. Louis County police officer, were killed in a crash late Thursday night in Illinois.

The 3-car crash happened on Route 159 near Brick School Road around 11 p.m.

A 23-year-old man was driving a Hyundai Sonata on northbound Route 159 and attempted to pass a semi-truck when he struck the officer head-on, according to Illinois State Police.

The Hyundai spun back into the northbound lanes and was struck by the semi-truck.

The driver and passenger in the Hyundai and the officer were taken to an area hospital. The 49-year-old officer and the 24-year-old passenger were both pronounced dead at the hospital.

The officer was off-duty at the time of the crash. He has been identified as James M. Ellis Jr.

The passenger in the Hyundai has been identified as Ariah Claybrone.

The 23-year-old man remains in the hospital with serious injuries but will survive, according to Illinois State Police.

officer ellis killed in accident
St. Louis County PD

Ellis was an 8-year veteran of the St. Louis County Police Department. He is survived by his wife and five children.

After joining the police department in 2011, Ellis was awarded a Lifesaving Award for performing CPR on someone who was unresponsive in 2012.

He was an active duty United State Marine from November 1992 to August 1996 and he was enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve from 2001 to 2005.

He was also deployed to Iraq as a squad leader from January to November 2004.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar released this statement:

“On behalf of the entire Department, I wish to express our sorrow and sympathy over the tragic death of Officer Mitch Ellis. Our hearts and deepest condolences go out to his family and friends. Officer Ellis was a dedicated police officer, loyal friend, and devoted family man. We are greatly honored to have worked with him and have him as part of our family.”

LOCAL NEWS