SESSER, Ill. - The Sesser Fire Protection District got the 911 call shortly before 3 a.m. Friday morning of a semi-truck on fire on Interstate 57. The firefighters battled the blaze for more than an hour before finally snuffing it out.
Then just as the last fire hose was being rolled up and placed on the fire truck, tragedy struck.
"A greyhound bus was passing the location as firefighters were putting up their hoses. The bus struck one of the fire trucks and a firefighter killing him instantly," Illinois State Trooper David Sneed.
James Miller, 43, of Sesser lost his life in an instant. He'd served as a volunteer with the department for the past 20 years.
"It affects a lot of people. Our fire department is our extended family, we're a real close unit. We work close together, we trust each other with our lives. And when you lose a fireman like this, you really lost a lot," said Safety Captain Curtis Johnston.
The driver of the bus, 41-year-old Sammy B. Rogers Jr., of Chicago was escorted away from the scene by police. He's been charged with violating 'Scott's Law' and Improper Lane Usage.
"It's important for the motoring public to understand that any emergency vehicle on the side of the road, any time you encounter that, you're to move into the opposite lane unless it's not feasible. At least slow down and pass with 'due' care. Evidently this morning that did not happen," Sneed said.
The maximum penalty for violating ' Scott's Law' is a $10,000 fine and a suspension of your drivers license for two years.
Police are investigating claims by some of the passengers onboard the bus about the drivers awareness on the road.
"There were some reports by some passengers on the bus that possibly the bus driver could have been a little sleepy. That is being investigated at this time," Trooper Sneed said.
James Miller is survived by his wife, two kids and extended family members, along with his fire fighting family at the Sesser Fire Protection District.