ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A deadly crash on Interstate 270 in south county is hitting close to home for the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol confirmed Wednesday’s crash killed attorney James Heitman. It’s understood that Heitman was one of the remaining prosecutors in Kim Gardner’s office under the General Felonies Unit. Heitman was 32.

In a statement, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said she was “shocked and saddended” by the news.

“I’m shocked and saddened to announce that one of our dedicated ACA’s, Mr. James Heitman, died in a car accident last night,” she said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his CAO family at this tragic time.”

Traffic is flowing smoothly now, but it was a much different scene for hours Wednesday afternoon into the night.

The crash happened on southbound I-270 south of Tesson Ferry at 5:15 p.m. The Missouri State Highway Patrol said four vehicles were involved in a chain reaction wreck as traffic was stopped on the interstate.

The patrol told FOX 2 that Hietman was one of the drivers and didn’t observe traffic stopped ahead of him as he switched lanes. Heitman’s car hit the stopped car ahead of him, starting the wreck. We’re told three of the vehicles caught fire, including Heitman’s.

Heitman was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead. One of the other drivers suffered minor injuries.

Southbound I-270 was closed for nearly five hours after the wreck.

Heitman graduated from the Saint Louis University School of Law in 2018. The school put out a statement Thursday afternoon to offer condolences to Heitman’s family, friends, and associates.

“The law school is heartbroken by the tragic passing of one of our alums, James Heitman. He dedicated his life to the pursuit of justice and was truly a man for and with others,” Jessica Ciccone, a law school spokesperson, said. “He was beloved by many in our community and was a loyal friend to those who knew him well. We ask for prayers and peace for his family, friends, and colleagues as they grieve his loss.”

Not only will the employees at the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office be mourning at the loss of a colleague, this also comes in the midst of several prosecutors there quitting, leaving the office short-handed.