Trooper, accident victim meet again — with governor looking on
URBANA — If Illinois State Trooper Brian Scott wondered why his boss told him to show up at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications Thursday afternoon, he didn't question him.
But it became pretty apparent when Scott saw Ethan Asofsky, the young man whose life he helped save on Interstate 57 Monday in the aftermath of a snowstorm, that something was up.
The victim and the man who helped lift a car off him were escorted like rock stars into a posh conference room, next door to where University of Illinois administrators were unveiling details of one of the world's fastest supercomputers.
With Asofsky's mom, Scott's boss, and a state trooper who acts as a media liaison nearby, the men posed for pictures together as they heard applause through the walls from the speeches next door.
Scott, 35, of Tolono, a 1999 UI graduate, and Asofsky, 21, who will graduate from the UI in a couple months, were swapping details of their harrowing ordeal when the door swung open and in walked Gov. Pat Quinn.
The bruised but upbeat Asofsky remained seated as the Democratic governor recounted details of what he had read about Asofsky's rescue in the newspaper.
"I'm glad you're with us," he said to the victim and rescuer. "This is so inspiring."
Quinn then unwrapped a framed commendation for Scott, honoring him for "doing your job."
He then handed Asofsky and Scott his business card and invited them to the governor's mansion for an overnight visit and a couple meals.
"How long have you been with the state police?" the governor asked Scott, who replied he was in his 12th year.
"We have three cadet classes this year. We want to have more men and women like you," said Quinn.
Quinn noted that Scott was an offensive lineman on the football team during his time at the UI and Asofsky is a sports writer for the Daily Illini.
Quinn then mentioned that the referees made a bad call at the end of the Illinois game Sunday against Miami, something Asofsky later said he was glad the governor noticed.
And as soon as the governor's entourage left the room, the two men resumed their conversation about the Monday ordeal, talking like old friends.
Asofsky explained to Scott that he felt he had to get out of his car to keep from being hit while in it after sliding into the median. As it turned out, his car was T-boned by another car in front of his eyes as he was on the phone summoning help from a motor club.
It was minutes later, after Scott arrived, that Asofsky was hit by yet another car as he stood outside a friend's car waiting to talk to the trooper.
"I saw it all," Scott told Asofsky. "You disappeared and the car disappeared."
Asofsky wondered why, when he dove head first into the snow on the shoulder, he ended up on his back pinned under the car.
Scott, an accident reconstruction specialist and veteran of many crash investigations, theorized that the car hit Asofsky and rolled him, which probably accounts for the bruising all along his left side.
Asofsky told the trooper he was going to get a new car since his was declared a total loss but didn't know what kind.
Both men also shared how overwhelmed they've been by phone calls, texts and Facebook contacts in the wake of news stories about their chance encounter.
As they talked, Chancellor Phyllis Wise came in to shake hands with the men and introduce herself to Asofsky's mother, Karen.
"How are you, Phyllis?" Asofsky said brightly.
"Thank you so much," the chancellor said to Scott.
That exchange prompted the even more grateful Karen Asofsky to hug her son, who winced slightly.
"I love my baby so much," she said, apologizing for hurting him with her embrace.