HECKER, Ill. — Neighbors are remembering a St. Louis County officer -- a husband and father of five -- who was killed as he was heading home from work on Thursday.
The tragedy is the second time in less than three months that an officer from the same rural Illinois area has died.
It happened Thursday night on Highway 159.
Officers say James Mitch Ellis was headed home from his shift when a driver trying to pass a semi-truck hit him head-on.
He died several hours later at the hospital, along with a 24-year-old passenger.
"Just how tragic the accident was," said one neighbor. "He was always a very nice guy and would wave every time he saw me."
Less than 10 miles away in Waterloo, Illinois, under the bright colors and jovial celebration of pumpkin fest, residents remember slain trooper Nicholas Hopkins.
Hopkins was killed while serving a search warrant in East St. Louis.
This festival on Saturday featured a stand solely to benefit his family, making Trooper Hopkins' impact known.
"his whole life was about doing good, doing acts of kindness and that's kind of what pumpkin fest is acts of kindness towards each other," said one festival-goer.
On Friday, St. louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said Officer Ellis would be missed. And much like Hopkins, his family will feel the support.
"It's one of those things to where we will move heaven and earth to do everything we can to support Mitch's family," said Chief Belmar.
Two officers from the same rural area -- gone, but never forgotten.
BackStoppers said it's currently reviewing the case to see if it can provide assistance to Ellis' family.
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