Special Prosecutor May Oversee Crash Involving Off-Duty Joliet Police Officer Who Drove Dodge Durango Into a Box Truck on I-55, Killing Berwyn Police Officer

Erin L. ZIlka, Joliet Police Officer charged with DUI and Driving Too Fast for Conditions
Erin L. ZIlka, Joliet Police Officer charged with DUI and Driving Too Fast for Conditions.

DUI, SPEEDING CHARGES NOT FORMALLY FILED

Joliet Police Officer Erin Zilka has been charged with DUI in a deadly crash that killed off-duty Berwyn police Officer Charles Schauer Sunday in Plainfield.

A special prosecutor will oversee the case against Joliet Police Officer Erin Zilka, who is facing DUI and speeding charges after a fatal crash Sunday, January 19, 2020 on southbound I-55 just north of US 30 near Painfield in Will County. The crash killed her passenger — Berwyn Police Officer Charles Schauer.

Citing a potential conflict of interest, Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow in court moved to have his office removed from the case Monday, January 20, 2020, and a judge approved the motion. If any additional charges are filed, a special prosecutor will be appointed to oversee the charges and prosecute the case.




Illinois State Police initially issued a misdemeanor ticket to the 35-year-old Joliet police officer after she allegedly drove her Dodge Durango at excessive speed into the left-rear corner of a Hino box truck on Sunday morning about 6:00 a.m. The right side of the Dodge Durango was severely damaged, and Schauer, age 33, was entrapped in the wreckage and pronounced dead at the scene.

Both police officers were off-duty at the time, initially it is unknown when they were last on duty or where they were before the crash. Schauer leaves behind a wife and two children.

The Illinois State Police, the lead investigative agency on the case, recommended Zilka be charged with driving under the influence and driving too fast for conditions. However, the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office released Monday that those charges were not yet formally filed because the office is conducting a “thorough investigation.”

Zilka’s attorney Jeffrey Tomczak — with the Personal Injury, Accident, Criminal Defense and DUI law firm “The Tomczak Law Group” — said Monday that his client’s blood alcohol content was under the legal limit. Tomczak referred to blood tests that he said were taken within an hour of the crash. Additional results for drugs — routine in fatal crashes — are not yet completed.




The Illinois State Police is the lead investigative agency on the case. The Joliet Police Department said Monday it is also conducting an internal investigation of their police officer Erin Zilka.

Zilka’s defense is calling on the Illinois State Police to also interview witnesses who they expect may testify regarding the road conditions at the time of the crash. According to the National Weather Service station at Midway International Airport, the overnight, early morning low temperature on Sunday January 19, 2020 was 3°F at 6:42 a.m. There was trace precipitation Sunday, and sunrise was 7:16 a.m.

Shortly after 6:00 a.m. Sunday, Zilka crashed into the rear of a Hino box truck while it was stopped in the right lanes of southbound I-55, and after it was involved in the first crash of two separate sequential crashes. A 42-year-old male driver from Plainfield was charged with driving under the influence, fleeing the scene and driving without valid insurance in connection with the first crash, involving his Nissan Titan pickup truck and the same Hino Box truck.

Joliet Police Officer Erin Zilka has been charged with DUI in a deadly crash that killed off-duty Berwyn police Officer Charles Schauer Sunday in Plainfield.

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Charles Schauer, Berwyn Police Officer killed in DUI crash
Charles Schauer, Berwyn Police Officer killed in DUI crash.
Erin L. ZIlka, Joliet Police Officer charged with DUI and Driving Too Fast for Conditions
Erin L. Zilka, Joliet Police Officer charged with DUI and Driving Too Fast for Conditions.
Rodrigo Marin, suspect charged with multiple counts of DUI, leaving scene of accident
Rodrigo Marin, suspect charged with multiple counts of DUI, leaving scene of accident (from the first crash).

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