FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – He was a man who saved lives, helped bring criminals to justice, and had to battle for his own life on numerous occasions.
Trooper James R. Bailey passed away Friday night after he was hit on I-69 while attempting to deploy stop sticks.
According to Indiana State Police, Terry D Sands II was being chased by Fort Wayne officers and heading toward DeKalb County when Trooper Bailey was alerted to the chase and stepped in to help.
He was allegedly struck by Sands’ car and did not survive his injuries.
But stepping in to help is something Trooper Bailey never failed to do.
In 2010, he talked to WANE 15 after he and his wife Amy helped save an elderly man who had collapsed in a Fort Wayne parking lot.
The two were having lunch at a restaurant in the Dupont Crossing Center on a Saturday afternoon. Although he was off-duty at the time, he had driven his squad car.
As they were leaving the parking lot and heading toward Coldwater Road, bystanders who witnessed an 87-year-old man collapse near his truck saw Trooper Bailey’s vehicle and waved him down.
“They allow us to drive it off duty, and had I not been in that I may not have been flagged down,” Bailey told WANE 15 in 2010.
The Baileys, a state trooper and a nurse, immediately began performing CPR on the man.
“We then provided team-CPR. My wife provided the breaths, and I provided chest compressions until Fort Wayne Fire, it was the number 16 I believe, arrived,” he recalled.
Once medics got there, they took over for the Bailey’s and the man’s pulse came back. That immediate CPR helped save the man’s life.
While many referred to them as heroes, Bailey told WANE 15 that they were just doing their jobs.
“Really it’s what we do, it’s what we are trained to do, and that’s why we get into this profession.”
A few years later, Bailey was honored by Indiana State Police.
According to our newsgathering partners at KPC News, he was named 2013 Trooper of the Year for District 22, which covers 11 northeast Indiana counties.
This came after very busy 2012 for Bailey.
That year, he issued more than 1,134 tickets and warnings, made 39 criminal arrests and arrested 10 drivers for operating under the influence.
Those numbers are impressive considering he only worked seven months that year.
According to KPC’s article, Bailey missed five months of work in 2012 as he battled cancer for a third time in his life.
A 5-inch, cancerous tumor was discovered on the upper lobe of his left lung in late February that year.
This, following a Ewing’s Sarcoma diagnosis in 1987 as an eighth grader and a cancerous tumor found on his leg in 2003.
Both times, he went through chemotherapy.
Bailey battled each and every time.
“I’m pretty stubborn,” Bailey told KPC. “You have two options. One is to go into a corner and pout. The second is to fight and be stubborn.”
Treatment took such a toll on him in 2012, Bailey had to remove himself off the road entirely and didn’t return until late August. He had lost nearly 30 pounds and doctors had to remove a third of the upper lobe of one of his lungs.
He fought until he was healthy and back to doing what he loved to do.
“I wanted to be out on the road,” Bailey told KPC in 2013. “Every day is different with this job. To me, this is my normal.”
He was a man who was clearly serious about serving the communities he swore to help protect.
While he didn’t view himself as one, if you read comments online or visit the memorial with his squad car at the ISP Fort Wayne post, it’s clear that plenty of people see Master Trooper James R. Bailey as a hero.
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- Suspect in custody after striking state trooper on I-69
- Indiana Fallen Heroes Foundation sets up memorial fund for state trooper