St. Louis County Police Officer James 'Mitch' Ellis One of Two Killed in Crash


St. Louis County police Officer James "Mitch" Ellis was killed in a car crash. - ST. LOUIS COUNTY POLICE
  • St. Louis County police Officer James "Mitch" Ellis was killed in a car crash.

An off-duty St. Louis County police officer was one of two people killed in a head-on collision late Thursday night in Illinois, authorities say.

Officer James "Mitch" Ellis, 49, was driving a Dodge Caravan on state highway 159 when a Hyundai coming from the opposite direction tried to pass a tractor-trailer, crashed into the officer's van and then ricocheted into the path of the tractor-trailer, causing a second collision between the car and truck, according to Illinois State Police.

A passenger in the Hyundai, 24-year-old Ariah Claybrone of Memphis, was also killed, the Belleville News-Democrat reported. The Hyundai driver, Dale Claybrone of Chicago, was badly injured.

St. Louis County police said Ellis was married with five children. He was a patrolman who worked out of the Jennings precinct.

"On behalf of the entire department, I wish to express our sorrow and sympathy over the tragic death of Officer Mitch Ellis," county police Chief Jon Belmar said in a news release. "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."

Ellis joined the department in 2011 and had previously served in the Marines on active duty from 1992 to 1996 and in the Marine Corp Reserves from 2001 to 2005. He was deployed to Iraq in 2004 for eleven months.

In August 2012, he earned a lifesaving award for performing CPR on an unresponsive man.

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