An Illinois Tollway employee killed Monday night in a crash on the Reagan Memorial Tollway in Aurora was a hard worker who had been “hustling since he was a little boy,” his sister said Tuesday through tears.
Maria Petrella said she grew up with her brother, 39-year-old Vincent Petrella, on Taylor Street in the Little Italy neighborhood. That’s where she said he got his first job putting tags on cars at a valet service.
“He’s been working all his life, since he was little,” Maria Petrella said.
Vincent Petrella began his career at the tollway as a toll collector and became an equipment operator laborer in 2005, according to a written statement from the tollway.
Maria Petrella said her brother moved to Wheeling about seven years ago and lived there with his wife and two children: a 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy.
She said she learned of the crash that also seriously injured an Illinois State Trooper after 11 p.m. Monday, and she didn’t know how to tell her parents.
“They’re staying strong,” Maria Petrella said.
The trooper was helping Petrella with a disabled semitrailer truck about 9:45 p.m. Monday near Eola Road, authorities said. Illinois State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said they were hit by another semi and were engulfed in flames.
Petrella was pronounced dead at the scene, and the trooper was hospitalized in serious condition at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, officials said.
“Vincent was a hard-working family man and father of two who was committed to doing his best each day to serve our customers on the tollway,” Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said in the statement.
Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this story.