Joliet Police Officer Charged With Driving Under The InfluenceBy Mike Puccinelli


CHICAGO (CBS) — Dramatic cellphone video shows the moments after a crash killed a Berwyn police officer this weekend.

Another officer, from Joliet, was behind the wheel at the time and is now charged with driving under the influence.

As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reported, the body of 10-year veteran Officer Charles Schauer arrived at a Northwest Side funeral home on Monday. Schauer’s Berwyn police colleagues escorted the hearse from Will County, where he lost his life before dawn Sunday in a violent crash.

With hands raised to their foreheads, the officers saluted as their colleague and friend was carried inside.

Meanwhile, cellphone video showed the scene almost immediately after the deadly crash – which happened 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.

Erin Zilka, a Joliet police officer, is charged with DUI in a crash that killed Berwyn Police Officer Charles Schauer. (Credit: Illinois State Police)

The 33-year-old father of two was killed almost instantly. First responders were heard saying they could not perform CPR.

Zilka 35, was taken to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and she was also charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence and driving too fast for conditions, Illinois State Police said.

But those that know her say that’s out of character.

Erin Walter has lived just a few doors down from Zilka in Plainfield for the past eight years.

“She’s a great person. She’s always very friendly,” Walter said.

Walter said what happened Sunday before dawn really is a double tragedy for both of the families involved.

“I feel very sad for both parties, you know – the gentleman that didn’t make it and for Erin,” Walter said.

Officer Zilka’s attorney said the Illinois State Police said Zilka’s blood alcohol level was below the legal limit. The Will County State’s Attorney’s office would not comment on her blood alcohol level, but said blood alcohol is not the only reasons someone can face a misdemeanor driving under the influence charge. There may be other circumstances to consider.

Mike Puccinelli