PESOTUM — Illinois State Police Trooper Ryan Albin's squad car struck the rear of a commercial box truck in the crash in which he was fatally injured Wednesday on Interstate 74 near Farmer City, state police said Friday.
While offering few new details about the accident during a news conference Friday at ISP District 10 headquarters in Pesotum, police officials praised Albin's accomplishments in law enforcement.
"I had met Trooper Albin a few times," ISP Director Leo P. Schmitz said. "He was always a good worker, a good person people wanted to be around. I had known who he was because of the work he had done. I had read his name. He had done significant drug, weapon, cigarette seizures."
Gov. Bruce Rauner has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff from sunrise Tuesday through sunset Thursday in Albin's honor.
Albin, 37, died at 8:45 p.m. Wednesday at Carle Hospital in Urbana from injuries suffered in a two-vehicle crash about five hours earlier on westbound Interstate 74 at mile post 155 just west of Farmer City, police said. Schmitz said both vehicles were approaching a construction zone where traffic was slowed and merging.
An autopsy was scheduled for Thursday, but results have not been released.
The truck driver, a 47-year-old Normal man, and his passenger, a 38-year-old Bloomington man, both refused medical treatment. They have not been identified, and no tickets have been issued.
Albin was nominated as officer of the year for Pontiac-based ISP District 6 in 2015 and for DeWitt County in 2009. He received awards from anti-drunken-driving groups for making more than 100 arrests in one year for driving under the influence.
Albin was a member of the National Criminal Enforcement Association and dedicated his career to criminal interdiction work, the officials said, also noting his service as a juvenile officer and a Fraternal Order of Police trustee.
“Trooper Ryan Albin was universally loved by his peers," said Steven Riesenberg, commander of District 6, in a statement issued Friday. "He was a big man who spoke softly, yet had a booming laugh that instantly let everyone in the building know he was there.
“Ryan was a true professional and a very effective crime fighter," he said. "He will be sorely missed.”
Albin, who grew up near Bellflower, graduated from Blue Ridge High School in Farmer City and earned a bachelor’s degree from Eureka College. He joined the state police Jan. 8, 2006, after graduating from the Illinois State Police Academy.
His canine partner, Biko, was taken to an emergency veterinarian in Urbana but had no significant injuries, Schmitz said.
Schmitz said people in law enforcement across the nation have been calling and texting him to offer their condolences.
Sangamon County Deputy Sheriff Terry Roderick, president of Illinois Chapter of the Concerns of Police Survivors, said teams have been called in to offer support and counseling for Albin's family and co-workers.
Albin is survived by his parents, two sisters, 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son.
Visitation will be 2-8 p.m. Wednesday and the funeral will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, both at Blue Ridge High School. Calvert-Belangee-Bruce Funeral in Farmer City is handling arrangements.
The public is encouraged to line the funeral procession route, which will be posted on the Illinois State Police website and Facebook page.