Will County, IL – Berwyn Police Department (BPD) Officer Charles “Chuck” Schauer died on Jan. 19, when the vehicle he was riding in slammed into a truck that had been involved in another crash.
The driver of the vehicle, 35-year-old Joliet Police Officer Erin Zilka, has been charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence and driving too fast for conditions, according to The Herald News.
The fatal collision occurred on Interstate 55 north of Route 30 at approximately 6 a.m., when the 2019 Dodge Durango pickup Officer Zilka was driving collided with the back of a box truck that had been involved in a separate drunk-driving crash, WLS reported.
Her passenger, 33-year-old Officer Schauer, died of his injuries at the scene.
The initial collision occurred when 42-year old Rodrigo Martin, who was allegedly intoxicated, lost control of his Nissan and crossed over the center line, hitting the front left side of the box truck.
Martin fled the scene on foot, but was apprehended a short distance away.
He is being held at the Will County jail on $250,000 bond on charges of aggravated DUI, driving on a revoked license, no valid insurance, failure to render aid, leaving the scene of an accident, improper lane use, and failure to reduce speed, The Herald-News reported.
Officer Zilka, Martin, and the 44-year-old driver of the box truck did not suffer any life-threatening injuries due to the collisions, according to WBBM.
According to Officer Zilka’s attorney, the section of roadway where the second collision occurred was too dark for Officer Zilka to brake in time to avoid running into the vehicles involved in the initial crash, WLS reported.
Her blood-alcohol was below the legal limit, he noted.
Officer Zilka is a 12-year veteran of the Joliet Police Department (JPD), according to The Herald-News.
She was released on her own recognizance pending her arraignment on March 18.
The JPD said it has opened an internal investigation into the crash.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all involved in this tragic incident,” the department said.
The Illinois State Police are handling the ongoing investigation into the fatal collision, the BPD said in a press release, according to WLS.
“The City of Berwyn Police Department is grieving the loss of a well-respected Police Officer, Charles Schauer,” the department said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Schauer family during this time of need.”
Prior to beginning his law enforcement career, Officer Schauer served in the U.S. Marine Corps, to include a deployment to Iraq in 2006, according to his obituary.
He was a 10-year veteran of the BPD.
Officer Schauer leaves behind his wife, Jessa, and his children, Henry and Kyleigh.
He is also survived by his parents, sister, grandmother, and many friends and extended family members.
Officer Schauer will be laid to rest on Saturday.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Berwyn Police Department Officer Charles “Chuck” Schauer, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.