STOCKTON (WREX) – There’s quite a lot of work for Robert Story to do. At his home there are donkeys, dogs, horses, cats, and a couple of pigs to take care of.
His home and barn are filled with rescues taken in by him and his wife Brooke.
“We started rescuing animals right after we first met,” said Robert. “When we moved out here to the farm it grew into larger animals. That was her passion, this area out here is beautiful and every day she got off work it was like vacation day.”
Quality time at home when Brooke wasn’t working as a District 16 Illinois State Police Trooper Commercial Vehicle Inspector. A job that carried an elite status.
“Brooke was a level one inspector. She was certified at the highest level and that’s a federal certification. She had to go through quite a bit of schooling for it.”
Education and experience that put Robert, a retired Master Sergeant with District 15 Illinois State Police, at ease.
“I know where Brooke worked as a commercial vehicle officer and that location was probably as safe as you’re going to find on 20 when you’re near Rockford.”
On March 28th, Brooke inspected a semi-truck on Highway 20 in Freeport. Just as she had many times before.
“We talked every day on the phone, we’d been together a long time. I don’t think there was a day that went by we didn’t talk. And we had been talking that day. She had basically, was going to make another stop before she was going to come home for lunch when the crash happened.”
Brooke was inspecting a tractor trailer when another truck ran off the road, striking Brooke, her squad, and the truck she was inspecting.
“Two of our coworkers came and to tell me that this had happened, when they told me I obviously just fell to the ground.”
Trooper Brooke Jones-Story at only 34 years old was gone.
“There’s no way to explain the pain that you feel. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”
Grief now turning to guilt for Robert.
“As a husband. It kills me every day that I couldn’t be there to help my wife or prevent something like this from happening. I know there’s no way I could. I know there’s no way I could control it.”
What Robert can control is making sure his wife’s death is not in vain.
“I think there needs to be some laws enacted to put some more teeth into Scott’s L aw that says that affects this. That says if you hit, his is now our work zone, so if you hit them there’s need to be a minimum. A minimum of what the penalty should be.”
Robert says he’d like to see the minimum punishment be similar to what happens if a construction worker is hit in a work zone.
“Whether it’s a construction worker, police officer, tow truck driver, maintenance driver, I think the standard needs to be the same across the board.”
So when he’s not tending to his four-legged friends the retiree plans on devoting his time to fighting for change so that no one has to go through what he’s endured ever again.
“If we can get enough people together to say this has to stop so we can save one person anywhere down the line, then it needs to be done.”
Work to do, for a love so deep.
“If someone loves you they love you and it’s that simple. That’s how Brooke is. She’s got so much love.
Love that will carry on.
“Probably the thing I would love to see carry on more about her than anything else is probably just how caring she was, the heart that she had. I hope that she’d be proud of what we’re doing to continue her love.”