Off-duty University Police lieutenant killed in traffic crash

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The University of Illinois Police Department is mourning the loss Monday of a police lieutenant who died of injuries sustained in a vehicle-versus-motorcycle crash Sunday in Champaign.

Aaron R. Landers, 50, of Saint Joseph, Illinois, was pronounced dead at 3:11 a.m. Monday at Carle Foundation Hospital. The official cause of death was ruled as blunt force injuries sustained in that traffic accident. University Police are releasing this information in conjunction with the Champaign County Coroner.

The Champaign Police Department on Monday released information about the traffic crash.

Lt. Landers was a long-time member of the University of Illinois Bomb Squad, most recently as its commander. In 2020, he was named as the supervisor of the department’s new Community Outreach and Support Team, which is tasked with providing educational programming for the campus community, support resources, community engagement, and mental health crisis intervention. Prior to that, Landers worked on patrol and was a member of the department’s Crisis Intervention Team.

Landers earned numerous awards during his career at UIPD, including two life-saving awards, the excellence in community policing award, and the director of public safety recognition award.

Altogether, Landers served the campus community as a police officer for 24 years. He is survived by his wife and two children.

“Lt. Landers was extremely passionate about his work,” said University Police Chief Alice Cary. “You could see that in everything he did, in how he interacted with people, and in the genuine relationships he was able to build. He cared deeply about serving the community.”

Additionally, Lt. Landers recently acquired K9 Winston, a UIPD therapy dog. This month, the pair traveled to Chicago to provide comfort to members of the Chicago Police Department following the line-of-duty death of Chicago Police Officer Ella French. Lt. Landers and K9 Winston visited the Champaign Police Department several times earlier this year following the line-of-duty death of Champaign Police Officer Chris Oberheim.

Earlier on Sunday, Lt. Landers and K9 Winston visited the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Quad Day to interact with students.

Landers was an avid bicyclist and rode in the annual Cycle Across Illinois event to benefit the Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) nonprofit organization. He completed this year’s 340-mile ride through the state in July.

“What he did went beyond traditional police work,” Cary said. “He was interested in the total well-being of the people he helped, in terms of their mental wellness and making sure they had to resources they need to be successful. He also cared deeply about his coworkers and other law enforcement officers. He wanted to make sure that they had the support they needed both in their professional and personal lives.”