Police: Motorists warned of reckless, speeding trucker before tollway worker was hit
Minutes before tollway worker David Schwarz was killed while working along the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) last fall, police received calls of a speeding, reckless truck driver headed in his direction, Illinois State Police said Friday.
The semitrailer truck driver later was identified as Christian Andrew Davon Hannah, 26, of Toledo, Ohio, whom Cook County prosecutors charged with reckless homicide on Thursday.
Schwarz was hit midday Sept. 18 on one of the busiest stretches of I-294. Witnesses and video camera footage helped police narrow the field of suspects quickly, but it took weeks to conduct interviews and collect enough evidence before charges were approved, state police District 15 Capt. Robert Meeder said at a news conference at tollway headquarters in Downers Grove.
"There was a lot of investigating to be done, including going to multiple states and talking to multiple witnesses who were on the scene," Meeder said.
Hannah turned himself in to state police on Thursday. The Cook County state's attorney's office said he did not appear to have a criminal history and the truck he was driving was registered to Smith Trucking Inc. in Blissfield, Michigan.
Schwarz, a 48-year-old Monee father of two sons, was removing debris from I-294 near 127th Street in Alsip. Schwarz, a tollway equipment operator laborer, was working on the shoulder when the semitrailer truck apparently drifted over the white line.
Schwarz was wearing a reflective safety vest and had parked his truck, which was equipped with flashing lights, tollway Executive Director Greg Bedalov said.
Schwarz was married with one son attending college and another son starting kindergarten. Friends of the family described Schwarz 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 who spent hours outdoors to get the Christmas decorations just right.
Attorney Joseph Conboy, who represents the family, said "their loss and pain will never go away. What they've been through has been unimaginable. This accident was avoidable. This manhunt was avoidable."
In 2017, the tollway ramped up a campaign to alert the public of Scott's Law, which requires drivers to slow down and move over as they near stopped emergency vehicles with flashing lights or any vehicle displaying hazard lights.
Hannah's bail was set at $175,000 in the Bridgeview courthouse. His next court appearance is Feb. 22.