A female police officer has been charged with driving under the influence after she slammed into a truck, and her police colleague sitting in the passenger seat was killed.
Erin Zilka, 35, was allegedly driving while drunk when the car struck a box truck that had been involved in a separate accident on the I-55 highway in Plainfield, Illinois.
Her passenger, Charles Schauer, 33, died after her SUV Dodge Durango hit the truck. The 10-year veteran of the Berwyn Police Department was pronounced dead at the scene.
Zilka, a six-year-veteran Joliet Police Department, was taken to hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries. She was then arrested and charged with driving under the influence.
The incident took place at around 6am when two trucks were involved in an accident on the highway and had come to a stop in the southbound lanes just north of Route 30 in Plainfield.
Zilka allegedly failed to slow down or change lanes as she approached accident scene, causing the SUV to crash into one of the trucks.
Both cops were off-duty at the time of the crash.
‘The subject from the Dodge Durango was not breathing… another subject was unconscious and another accident happened right in the area,’ an official told ABC News Chicago.
The Berwyn Police Department has paid tribute to its fallen officer in a Facebook post.
‘The City of Berwyn Police Department is grieving the loss of a well-respected Police Officer, Charles Schauer, a 10-year veteran,’ it said.
‘Officer Schauer was a passenger in a vehicle that was in an auto accident in Will County. The accident investigation is being conducted by the Illinois State Police. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Schauer family during this time of need.’
Jeff Tomczak, defending the accused, disputed that his client was intoxicated and said she was ‘totally devastated’ by the events.
The Illinois State Police will continue to investigate the incident.