Search continues for driver who hit, killed tollway worker
David M. Schwarz worked "on the front line" of the Illinois tollway's 292-mile system and died trying to make the roads safer, agency leaders said Tuesday.
Illinois State Police are still searching for the semitrailer driver involved in a hit-and-run that killed the father of two as he moved debris off the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) near 127th Street in Alsip midday Monday.
Friends of the family described the 48-year-old Monee resident as a "rock" for his wife and two boys, a dad who took time off work so his youngest son didn't have to go to day care and spent hours outdoors to get the Christmas decorations just right.
"It was all about his family," said Rebecca O'Connell, a colleague of Schwarz's wife, Hope, a high school teacher.
Hope Schwarz worried about her husband's safety in bad weather. "Every winter she was terrified when he was snowplowing or out on the road that something like this was going to happen," friend Tiffany Insalaco said.
But the fatal crash in sunny weather Monday was a brutal shock for the family. "It's devastating," Insalaco said. "For your husband to leave and not come back ... it changes their entire world."
Schwarz was an equipment operator laborer who started at the tollway in 1992. His duties included assisting stranded motorists, maintaining safe roads and removing snow.
"David ... was carrying out his duties when he tragically lost his life," officials said in a statement. The agency is "extremely saddened by the loss of our co-worker and colleague. (He was) a respected and valued member of the tollway.
Friends of the family have started a scholarship fund for the couple's two boys, Jacob, a college sophomore, and Zachery, a kindergartner, at gofundme.
O'Connell described David Schwarz as "Hope's best friend ... it was one of those ideal marriages where they were equal partners."
The hands-on dad "would do anything" for his sons, Insalaco said, play-wrestling with Zachery and taking great pride in Jacob's studying art in college.
"He was good at letting his kids follow their dreams," she said.