The site of Kaneland High School's student news publication.

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The site of Kaneland High School's student news publication.

Kaneland Krier

The site of Kaneland High School's student news publication.

Kaneland Krier

Passing of Student Resource Officer Deputy Chris Ruchaj

Photo By Courtesy of Janelle McCornack
Officer Ruchaj was the resource officer at Kaneland High School since 2022-23 school year. A memorial fund was placed at Old Second Bank in Elburn.

On Feb. 14, 2024, Kaneland Community Unit School District 302 was informed that Kaneland High School Resource Officer (SRO) Deputy Christopher Ruchaj passed away unexpectedly from cardiac arrest at the age of 50. Ruchaj had been a part of the Kane County Sheriff’s Department since 1997. He had been the SRO at Kaneland High School since the 2022-23 school year. 

“I like to say he was a friend to all and a mentor to many,” senior and former Fox Valley Career Center (FVCC) law enforcement student Connor Anderson said. 

Throughout his time at Kaneland, he made it his goal to help any student who needed it.

“He wasn’t the type of cop that wanted to just get kids in trouble,” Anderson said. “He wanted to figure out the root of the issue and then dig into that. He would talk to their parents and teachers and figure out what he could [do] to help them get on a better path.” 

Ruchaj was known for trying to help students find their right way in life and impacting them in different ways. He did the same for the staff. 

“We were co-workers,” physical education teacher and former Dean of Students Joshua West said. “He was the SRO when I was the dean. But just over the couple of years, [our relationship] turned more into a friendship than a working relationship.” 

Ruchaj was set to retire in June and was preparing to help find a new SRO to replace him. Because of his unfortunate passing, there have now been rotating officers at the high school.

“He loved working with the kids, and he loved working here. Finding someone to replace him will be difficult,” West said. 

During the bathroom fire at the high school last spring, Ruchaj’s quick actions did not go unnoticed. 

“He immediately jumped out of his chair, ran down to get the fire extinguisher and ran into that bathroom to see if anyone was in there,” Anderson said. “He put his life on the line… he got to the point where he did have smoke inhalation, but he was just that kind of guy.” 

Before becoming the SRO, Ruchaj had worked as a corrections officer and patrol officer for Kane County, along with doing some detective work. 

As a patrol officer, Ruchaj became friends with Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain. 

“We worked together for 21 years… we [both] started in the patrol division here [in Kane County]. He was always very close with me,” Hain said. “We worked the same patrol areas together, and he was always very supportive of my career.”

Ruchaj took pride in everything he did relating to his work, from patrolling parts of Kane County to later working at the high school. 

Along with being proud of his career, he was also a proud father. Ruchaj had three children: Riane, Amber and Chris. All of his children were Kaneland High School graduates, with the youngest, Chris, graduating with the class of 2023. 

“The only thing he loved more than his job was his kids,” Hain said. 

Not only was he a father to his own children, but he was also a father figure and mentor to students. 

“We’ve had officers who would come in right when the bell rings and leave right when the bell rings. But Ruchaj would sit in his squad every day and wave at every kid leaving until everyone left that parking lot,” Anderson said. “His favorite part was getting that connection with kids… he really served as a father figure and mentor to many people.”

Ruchaj’s memorial visitation was on Feb. 23, and his Full Honor Police Funeral occurred on Feb. 24. Both ceremonies were held at Kaneland Harter Middle School. 

“It’s important to recognize that he would not want us to cry,” Anderson said. “He would want us to smile and remember his quirkiness and the fun time we had with him.”

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About the Contributor
Sarah Slattery
Sarah Slattery, Design and Photography Executive
Name: Sarah Slattery   Position: Design and Photography Executive   Graduation year: 2025   A few sentences about me: Some of my hobbies include playing softball, taking pictures at a multitude of sports events, my favorite being football and basketball games, and drinking coffee. I can't wait to continue taking pictures at all of Kaneland's events and having fun with everyone.    My favorite…   Movie:  The Notebook Show: The Queen's Gambit/Breaking Bad  Animal: Elephants Hobby: Photography and Traveling Book: Divergent by Veronica Roth Food: Crab Rangoons Song: Stuck with Me: The Neighbourhood Band / Artist: Zach Bryan and The Neighbourhood