An Illinois State Police trooper on patrol near south suburban University Park had to defend himself during a prolonged fight early Tuesday with a pedestrian walking along Interstate 57.
The trooper saw the 46-year-old Mark A. Gaston walking on the shoulder of northbound I-57 near Stuenkel Road at 1:18 a.m., according to an Illinois State Police Joliet District trooper.
The trooper pulled over and attempted to talk to talk to Gaston, who then attacked the officer, State Police said.
A struggle lasting 10 to 15 minutes ensued before other law enforcement officers arrived on scene to finally subdue the combative pedestrian, according to State Police. Troopers from Illinois State Police District Chicago and officers from Richton Park, University Park, Crete, Peotone and Monee assisted in bringing the man under control.
Both the State Trooper, who is about 5-foot-9 and weights approximately 170 pounds, and Gaston were taken to St. James Hospital and Health Centers in Olympia Fields for minor injuries.
The state trooper was treated and released from the hospital after sustaining cuts to his hands, State Police said.
Gaston, of Richton Park, suffered injuries to his head and face, according to State Police. Once he released from the hospital, Gaston will be taken to Will County Jail and charged with aggravated battery to a police officer and resisting arrest.
"It's illegal for pedestrians to enter any expressway and occasionally officers will come across pedestrians or stranded motorists needing assistance to re-locate," State Police Joliet District Capt. Bridget Bertrand said in the release. "When pedestrians are wandering aimlessly on the expressways, it presents dangerous challenges for our troopers and motorists, and the quick action by the trooper prevented a more serious accident or tragedy from occurring."