A Dolton, Ill., firefighter died over the weekend while battling a fire in a neighboring city, leaving a whole community in mourning.
According to CBS Chicago, Lawrence Matthews, 35, went into cardiac arrest while working to put out a fire that had engulfed multiple mobile homes in the area around 1:30 p.m Saturday. He was rushed to Ingalls Memorial Hospital but never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at 3:15 p.m.
The news station notes that as the ambulance carrying Matthews’ body made its way to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, several Chicago and suburban police officers and firefighters saluted, paying their respects to the fallen firefighter.
“Lawrence Matthews was full of life, full of joy. He’d light up a room when he’d come in. He was always invested in community. He did everything for community; and as you could see, he cared about people. He cared about lives,” Dolton Village Trustee Tiffany Henyard told the news station.
Matthews, a husband and the father of four, had been with the Dolton Fire Department since 2009. On Saturday the Dolton crew was called in to assist the Harvey Fire Department with the mobile-home fire. Officials say that Matthews was on the sidewalk after arriving on the scene when he went into cardiac arrest.
“He just collapsed. At that point, we immediately tried to see what was going on with him, and he was unresponsive,” Harvey spokesman Sean Howard said. “An hour later, he passed away. His wife was by his side; kids were here. A flurry of firemen and policemen from all over were here.”
And Matthews was no ordinary firefighter. A heart-transplant recipient, he went against all odds and, with his doctors’ blessing, became a firefighter just two years after receiving a new heart at the University of Chicago Medicine.
“To lose your life doing what you love is a big blow, a horrible blow,” Howard added.
Read more at CBS Chicago.