CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Illinois State Police said tollway surveillance cameras and interviews of out-of-state witnesses helped investigators and prosecutors bring reckless homicide charges against a 26-year-old Ohio truck driver this week.
State Police District 15 Commander Robert Meeder said truck driver Christian Hannah had been reported driving recklessly miles before he allegedly steered onto the shoulder of the Tri-State in September, killing 48-year old tollway maintenance worker David Schwarz.
Captain Meeder said there had been 911 calls about a truck that had been speeding, driving in the left lane and otherwise driving recklessless, and that that truck was driven by Hannah.
Near Cicero Avenue on the southbound Tri-State, Cmdr. Meeder said Hannah was in the right lane, but veered onto the shoulder where Schwarz was, and hit the worker. Meeder said there had been flashing caution board and Schwarz’s maintenance truck lights were flashing.
“Christian Hannah then left the scene of the crash without offering aid or calling 911 to report his involvement,” Meeder said.
Meeder said that, besides surveillance cameras being helpful in zeroing in on the truck driver, “The District 15 investigators, with assistance from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office traveled to multiple states to obtain eyewitness statements and other evidence to bring Christian Hannah to justice.”
David Schwarz’s family was on hand at the news conference. Their lawyer, Joe Convoy, spoke for them said, “While nothing will bring Dave back or stop the pain the Schwarz family is going through, this arrest will help the family get a little closer to closure for their untimely loss.”
Illinois Tollway Executive Director Greg Bedalov again offered his condolences to the Schwarz family and said, “We don’t want this to happen again.”
Tollway Chief Engineering Officer Paul Kovacs said the bottom line for motorists is that, “When you see flashing lights on the side of the road, you’re supposed to move over, if it’s safe to move over and, at minimum, you have to slow down.”
Tollway maintenance worker Monroe Caston worked with David Schwarz and called him “a super-nice guy. Easy-going. He liked to bowl. He liked the scratch-off tickets.”
Of being on the job when vehicles are whizzing past at 70 miles an hour and more, sometimes, Caston said, “You have to have your head on a swivel when you’re out there.”
Christian Hannah was given a bond of $175,000 and his next date in court is Feb. 22 at the Bridgeview Courthouse.