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Local News

Plainfield man faces felony charges after deadly I-55 car crash

Several felony charges were filed against a Plainfield man on Wednesday in connection with a crash on Interstate 55 involving multiple vehicles and the death of a Berwyn police officer.

Rodrigo Marin, 42, was charged with aggravated driving under the influence, aggravated DUI with a driver’s license suspended or revoked, driving with a revoked or suspended driver’s license and leaving the scene of an accident.

Marin also faces traffic charges such as failure to reduce speed, improper lane use and failure to give information and render aid.

Marin has been in custody at the Will County jail since Sunday. He was arrested by Illinois State Police, who said he crashed into a box truck about 6 a.m. in the southbound lanes of Interstate 55, just north of Route 30.

Police said that Joliet officer Erin Zilka crashed into the same box truck shortly afterward, and Berwyn officer Charles Schauer, 33, a passenger in her vehicle, was killed.

Zilka was charged with driving under the influence and driving too fast for conditions or failing to reduce speed. She was released on her own recognizance, court records show.

According to a state police report, Zilka had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her breath. About 10:20 a.m., she refused testing at AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center, according to the report.

ISP tickets issued to Zilka said the road was dry and visibility was clear.

Marin’s bond was set at $250,000.

Will County State’s Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Carole Cheney said a probable cause hearing in Marin’s case was held Monday and that the judge set the bond based on the facts that were presented.

Marin’s case is scheduled for a Feb. 10 hearing on a bond reduction motion. His attorney, Melinda Lange, and his family declined to comment on the case Wednesday.

Judge Matthew Bertani recused himself from Zilka’s case Wednesday because her attorney, Jeff Tomczak, is his brother-in-law. Bertani assigned the case to Judge Ben Braun.

Special prosecutor Bill Elward, appointed in part because Zilka is a police officer and a witness in another criminal case, declined to comment on her case.

Tomczak said it was reported to him that Zilka’s blood-alcohol content was below the legal limit. He said witnesses contacted his office to say the first and second crash happened within seconds of each other and that the lighting was pitch black.

“I think there is a lot of investigation which needs to be done. Our office is cooperating with the Illinois State Police,” he said.

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