Joliet cop charged in DUI crash that killed off-duty Berwyn police officer

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BERWYN, Ill. — Officers in Berwyn are grieving the loss of one of their own, 33-year-old Officer Chuck Schauer.

Purple and black bunting has been hung at the main entrance of the Berwyn Police Department, and flags have been lowered to half-staff.

Ofc. Schauer, a 10-year veteran, was killed while off-duty in a car crash on Interstate 55 Sunday.

Erin Zilka

Illinois State Police said 35-year-old Erin Zilka, who has worked as a Joliet police officer for the past 12 years, was driving under the influence at the time of the crash.

According to police, a box truck and a pickup truck got into an accident and stopped on two southbound lanes of I-55 — just north of US Route 30 near Plainfield at around 6 a.m. Sunday.

Shortly after, Zilka, of Plainfield, crashed a Dodge Durango into the stopped box truck. Ofc. Schauer was Zilka’s passenger at the time of the crash.

Zilka was hospitalized for non-life-threatening injuries. She is charged with a DUI and driving too fast for conditions.

State police said Zilka is out on bond. Joliet police said she is now under internal investigation for the crash.

Zilka’s neighbor said she was shocked to hear the news.

“She’s a great neighbor, I’ve known her since I’ve lived here,” Erin Walter said. “I was shocked to hear the news, she’s a great person.”

On Monday night, Illinois State Police charged the driver who caused the initial crash with a DUI.

State police said Zilka could also face more serious charges, depending on the outcome of the investigation.

Her attorney, Jeffrey Tomczak, told WGN Zilka’s blood alcohol content was under the legal limit. He did not say exactly what it was.


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