Hero Down: Berwyn PD Officer Charles Schauer Killed In Crash, His Driver Charged

Holly Matkin

Berwyn Police Officer Charles Schauer served his department for ten years.

Will County, IL – Berwyn Police Department (BPD) Officer Charles “Chuck” Schauer died on Jan. 19, when the vehicle he was riding in slammed into a truck that had been involved in another crash.

The driver of the vehicle, 35-year-old Joliet Police Officer Erin Zilka, has been charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence and driving too fast for conditions, according to The Herald News.

The fatal collision occurred on Interstate 55 north of Route 30 at approximately 6 a.m., when the 2019 Dodge Durango pickup Officer Zilka was driving collided with the back of a box truck that had been involved in a separate drunk-driving crash, WLS reported.

Her passenger, 33-year-old Officer Schauer, died of his injuries at the scene.

The initial collision occurred when 42-year old Rodrigo Martin, who was allegedly intoxicated, lost control of his Nissan and crossed over the center line, hitting the front left side of the box truck.

Martin fled the scene on foot, but was apprehended a short distance away.

He is being held at the Will County jail on $250,000 bond on charges of aggravated DUI, driving on a revoked license, no valid insurance, failure to render aid, leaving the scene of an accident, improper lane use, and failure to reduce speed, The Herald-News reported.

Officer Zilka, Martin, and the 44-year-old driver of the box truck did not suffer any life-threatening injuries due to the collisions, according to WBBM.

According to Officer Zilka’s attorney, the section of roadway where the second collision occurred was too dark for Officer Zilka to brake in time to avoid running into the vehicles involved in the initial crash, WLS reported.

Her blood-alcohol was below the legal limit, he noted.

Officer Zilka is a 12-year veteran of the Joliet Police Department (JPD), according to The Herald-News.

She was released on her own recognizance pending her arraignment on March 18.

The JPD said it has opened an internal investigation into the crash.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all involved in this tragic incident,” the department said.

The Illinois State Police are handling the ongoing investigation into the fatal collision, the BPD said in a press release, according to WLS.

“The City of Berwyn Police Department is grieving the loss of a well-respected Police Officer, Charles Schauer,” the department said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Schauer family during this time of need.”

Prior to beginning his law enforcement career, Officer Schauer served in the U.S. Marine Corps, to include a deployment to Iraq in 2006, according to his obituary.

He was a 10-year veteran of the BPD.

Officer Schauer leaves behind his wife, Jessa, and his children, Henry and Kyleigh.

He is also survived by his parents, sister, grandmother, and many friends and extended family members.

Officer Schauer will be laid to rest on Saturday.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Berwyn Police Department Officer Charles “Chuck” Schauer, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Comments (29)
Kevcali
Kevcali

I wonder what his BAC was. Or should he have been driving?

No. 1-13
Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

How much time passed between the crash and Zilka's test(s)? Hard to know what to make of this story without knowing the relevant BAC numbers and times.

bryantrent
bryantrent

Scary

Marxest
Marxest

So Officer Zilka blood alcohol content was below the legal limit but she was still charged. That's interesting. She may be able to fight that particular charge and have it dropped since it was below the legal limit. The rest of the charges against her are a different story. Of course the blue wall made sure that she would be lightly charged and that she wouldn't have to post bail and simply be released on her own recognizance, no surprise there. As fir the crash, Police Officers often abuse their authority and use their position and power to make unlawful driving maneuvers and turns and most commonly to drive well past the speed limit. Police Officers should not brake the speed limit unless they are driving to an emergency. It is unfortunate but common that individuals who aren't intoxicated are killed in drunk driving incidents.

LynnSB
LynnSB

As a person who recently lost her sister and brother-in-law in oh head and roll over collision caused by a drunk driver who had been convicted before if you’re behind the wheel and you have been drinking alcohol I don’t care what your numbers are you should be charged as a drunk driver there’s no excuse for this and this woman was a police officer who is now responsible for the death of another police officer And a father and a husband and they release her on her own recognizance I don’t understand why we have laws at all they don’t equally apply to everyone in the majority the time they’re just ignored these kind of stories make my blood boil

Kswilkins
Kswilkins

I feel bad for his wife and kids. Not the type of circumstances one would like to see

IronRick
IronRick

The DRUNK DRIVER that caused the first accident should also be charged in the death of this fine Officer Charles “Chuck” Schauer. Chuck died as a direct result of Martin driving DRUNK... And then this COWARD runs away.

charlesjandecka
charlesjandecka

Maybe I missed something, but it read to me "Officer" Zilka was operating a civilian vehicle which suggests she was off duty at the time of the crash, thus reducing her identity to that of a regular citizen. This same deduction could be made for "Officer" Schauer, whose death introduces the possibility that he was not wearing a seat belt. And if they were not on duty, one wonders why were they out together at 6AM, which suggests they may very well have spent the night out together which is odd since Shauer had a wife and children.

Luscious775
Luscious775

She should not have been driving she deserves to be fired and arrested jail time for this! Pisses me off

Scattered
Scattered

It doesnt freaking matter if he was out without his wife. You know nothing so quit assuming. This Officer lost his life can you say something kind? Now I thought below the legal limit was below the limit but you all say it doesnt matter. The law is the law for everybody. Maybe it was a very dark stretch of road? None of you know. How about a sorry for your loss or thank you for your service instead of being so judgemental? Rest in Peace Officer. God Bless You!

jimmyfboyd1234
jimmyfboyd1234

Blessed are the PEACEMAKERS for they shall be called SON'S of GOD. Matthew 5:9

AprilShowers2
AprilShowers2

Some of you people are just sickening. Making assumptions and putting them out there is harmful to everyone and it’s just plain wrong! We’re you there?? Why are you judging what you did not see?
I’m so sorry for this officer and his family.
The legal limit number is there for a reason. She was well under that, so how does any alcohol still com in as a factor?
They needed a scapegoat and she’s it! Somebody has to pay right??
There are so many things here that do not make any sense. So stop judging what you don’t know all of the story to.

Schick56
Schick56

🙏🙏🙏


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