BERWYN – The Berwyn community continues to mourn the loss of a veteran member of its police department who died Jan. 19 in a collision on Interstate 55.
Charles Schauer, 33, a Glen Ellyn resident, was pronounced dead at the scene of a 6 a.m. crash on Interstate 55 north of Route 30, Illinois State Police said.
A Joliet police officer was charged with driving under the influence in connection with the crash, state police said.
“At this time of great sadness, I’ll be keeping Officer Schauer’s family and friends, as well as all Berwyn police officers in my thoughts and prayers during this time of grief,” Mayor Robert Lovero said.
Guy Papa, a division commander at the Berwyn Police Department, spoke fondly of Schauer.
“Chuck was a very intelligent guy, always with a joke and a good friend,” Papa said. “There were times when I was a supervisor over him on the midnight shift. If I was going through a door, I didn’t have to look behind me because Chuck was right there behind me, and you could always count on him.”
Officer Rickey Smith remembered Schauer’s dedication to the job.
“Chuck does a lot for the department,” Smith said. “He always has. He’s always been the first one to volunteer to help out with anything anybody needs. Me particularly, with training. He was my go-to source. I needed help with anything, Chuck is the guy I can count on. I can give him any task and I know that it’s going to get done with the utmost professionalism all the way across the board. He has always been that way. He put his heart and soul into the department and probably even more so into all the guys and girls that he worked with.”
Papa and Smith added that Schauer was not only one of the best evidence techs that they worked with, but he was well-respected throughout the department.
The driver of the 2019 Dodge Durango in which Schauer was riding, Joliet Police Officer Erin Zilka, 35, was charged with driving under the influence and driving too fast for conditions, police said. Zilka, a Plainfield resident, was treated at an area hospital for injuries suffered in the crash, police said.
Zilka crashed into the back of a box truck that had been involved in a wreck with a pickup truck a short time before, according to state police. The box truck and the pickup were blocking two southbound lanes, police said.
The day after the deadly wreck, the Joliet Police Department released a statement that said “one of our officers, a 12-year veteran, was involved in an off-duty vehicle crash on I-55 near Route 30 where her passenger was tragically killed.”
“Our department has begun an internal investigation and is in the process of collecting all the facts,” the statement read. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all involved in this tragic incident.”