Berwyn Police Officer Killed In Crash On I-55; Off-Duty Joliet Police Officer Charged With DUI

Bernie Tafoya
January 20, 2020 - 8:19 am
Berwyn Police Officer Charles Schauer

Berwyn Police

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A Berwyn police officer was killed Sunday in a crash on Interstate 55 near southwest suburban Plainfield, and a Joliet police officer is charged.

The crash happened at about 6 a.m. on southbound I-55 just north of U.S. Route 30, Illinois State Police said. A 2008 Hino box truck got into a crash with a pickup truck, and shortly after,  a 2019 Dodge Durango slammed into the rear of the box truck.

The driver of the Durango was 35-year-old Joliet Police Officer Erin L. Zilka and 33-year-old Berwyn Police Officer Charles Schauer was a passenger.

Schauer, a 10-year veteran with Berwyn, was pronounced dead on the scene, state police and Berwyn police said. Zilka was hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening and was charged with a DUI.

Joliet police said they have begun an internal investigation into the incident.

Erin Zilka
Illinois State Police

Zilka’s attorney, Jeff Tomczak, said her blood-alcohol test came up under the legal limit, but declined to specify the number. He said Zilka was friends with Schauer, and was in “a really bad way.”

“She’s absolutely devastated to a degree I can’t express verbally,” Tomczak said.

He said Zilka “came upon” an earlier accident in a “darkened” part of the road before crashing.

Zilka has been an officer with Joliet police for 6 years, and had served in Shorewood for another 6 years, Tomczak said. He said she is due in court March 18.

Zilka, of Plainfield, was also cited for driving too fast for conditions, state police said.

Berwyn Mayor Robert Lovero announced that Schauer was involved in the “tragic traffic accident” in a Facebook post.

“Please keep Officer Schauer’s family and friends, as well as all Berwyn police officers in your thoughts and prayers during this time of grief,” he said.

Three lanes on I-55 were shut down for hours as state troopers investigated, state police said. They were reopened by 10:20 a.m.

Purple bunting hangs over the entrance to the Berwyn Police Department and the American flag flies as half staff.

(WBBM Newsradio and the Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this copy. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)