BERWYN, Ill. (CBS) — Berwyn police were mourning the loss of an officer who was killed in a traffic accident in Will County on Sunday morning. An off-duty Joliet police officer has been charged with DUI in the crash.
Charles Schauer was a 10-year veteran of the Berwyn Police Department, according to Berwyn Police Chief Michael D. Cimaglia.
As CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross reported, city leaders began posting the officer’s picture on social media Sunday evening as the area learned of the loss. There were signs of great grief in Berwyn as the details about what happened came out.
A purple bunting rested outside the Berwyn Police Department – a traditional sign of grief for first responders and their extended families.
Schauer, 33, of Glen Ellyn, was a passenger in a sport-utility vehicle that was involved in a crash, police said.
Illinois State Police said just after 6 a.m., troopers responded to a crash involving multiple vehicles on southbound Interstate 55 just north of Route 30.
State Police said a Hino box truck and a pickup truck first crashed at the location, coming to rest in the right two lanes of traffic.
Soon afterward, Erin Zilka, an off-duty Joliet police officer, was driving a 2019 Dodge Durango in the southbound lanes of I-55 when she crashed into the box truck. Schauer, who was in the passenger’s seat of the Durango, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Zilka, 35, was taken to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and she was also charged with driving under the influence and and driving too fast for conditions, Illinois State Police said.
She is due in court on March 18.
Joliet police said they are conducting an internal investigation.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all involved in this tragic incident,” Joliet police said in a statement.
There were no reports of injuries to the 44-year-old man driving the box truck.
Three of the right four lanes were shut down while investigators looked into the collision.
Schauer leaves behind a wife and two children, a Berwyn police source said.
Berwyn Mayor Robert J. Lovaro released a statement on Facebook expressing “great sadness.”
The mayor said a counselor and a priest were brought into the Berwyn Police Department to deal with the officer’s deaths, and they will also likely be there Monday.
Berwyn police said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Schauer family during this time of need.”
A police source said the Berwyn Police Department is planning a procession for Officer Schauer on Monday.
There was no word late Sunday on the court process for the driver. Illinois State Police are investigating, Cimaglia wrote.