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|Last Updated: Monday, November 05, 2012|
Chicago Firefighter Killed In the Line of Duty
A Chicago firefighter died this morning after falling 35 feet from a ladder while battling a fire at a downtown Chicago, Illinois restaurant. Christopher Wheatley, 31, died from his injuries several hours later at Stroger Hospital, according to the Chicago Tribune.
This morning, Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Robert Hoff was emotional as he spoke at a press conference outside Stroger Hospital, hailing Wheatley as "one of our best."
He said the firefighters were called to Avec Restaurant in the 600 block of West Randolph Street around 1:30 a.m.
"They had to go up to the roof to open the area where the grease chute extended through. Firefighter Christopher Wheatley was making his way up to the roof on a ladder that was attached to the building carrying his equipment. Apparently he slipped and fell to the ground causing critical injuries," Hoff said.
Everyone rallied around Wheatley after his fall, Scott Buckley, a 16-year veteran with the Chicago Fire Department, told the Chicago Sun-Times. "All the guys jumped in and tried to resuscitate him," Buckley said. "As soon as he hit the ground everyone was helping. It was bad, to be totally honest with you."
"He was a great guy - a step-up guy," Buckley said.
Wheatley had been with the department since 2000 as a paramedic. He crossed over to become a firefighter in 2008. He was assigned to Truck 2.
"He was very, very well liked. He was a very hard worker. He was a paramedic firefighter, who always had a smile on his face," Hoff said. "He was a very aggressive firefighter ó he was into the job."
"He was one of the most helpful on ambulance assists when he was first-responding," said paramedic Jeff Swagler, who saw Wheatley last week. "He was always willing to jump in and help."
"He was very popular, he was well liked in the department. There was nothing not to like about him," Swagler said with his eyes welling with tears. "He was a big sports fan. He had season tickets to the Cubs. He was a big Bears and Blackhawks fan as well. He was a good guy."
The fire department formed a convoy to escort Wheatley's body to the morgue, according to WGN-TV. Police cars, their blue lights flashing, lined the street as officers saluted Ambulance 15 as it carried Wheatley's body to the Cook County medical examiner's office.
At Wheatley's firehouse, the American and City of Chicago flags were lowered to half-staff. According to the Sun-Times, 35 firefighters watched as purple bunting was draped across the building.
Wheatley is the first firefighter to die in Chicago since 2007, when William Grant died when a school bus collided with the fire truck he was in, according to the Sun-Times.
"This job is dangerous," Hoff said. "You never know what is going to happen when you pull out the door."
Wheatley was engaged and is survived by his parents and sister. "He was one of our finest," Hoff said. "I really ask that everybody keeps him and his family in his prayers."
Author:Barbara Brooks - Fire Department Network News
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