Chicago firefighter who was not off duty drowns in Lake Michigan

n a devastating incident, an off-duty Chicago firefighter lost his life after being pulled from Lake Michigan while swimming with his family on Sunday morning, July 30, 2023. The firefighter, identified as 43-year-old Wilbert Hayes, had recently completed his shift before the tragedy occurred.

According to reports, emergency personnel were called to the scene and found Hayes underwater. Swift action was taken to locate him and perform advanced life support before transporting him to the University of Chicago Medical Center. Tragically, despite their efforts, Hayes was pronounced dead at 9:07 a.m.

Hayes had been a dedicated member of the Chicago Fire Department since 2008. He was described as an Engineer EMT and had served the community with passion and commitment. The loss of such a dedicated first responder is being felt by the entire firefighting community and the city of Chicago as a whole.

In response to the tragic incident, Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt expressed her condolences and acknowledged the profound impact the loss has on the first responder community. She also confirmed that a comprehensive investigation is underway to determine the circumstances surrounding the tragic event.

As the news spread, fellow firefighters, police officers, and paramedics paid tribute to Hayes by leading a procession in his honor as his body was transported to the medical examiner’s office.

The untimely passing of Wilbert Hayes serves as a solemn reminder of the dangers and unpredictability that emergency responders face even while off-duty. It highlights the courage and dedication displayed by firefighters like Hayes, who put their lives on the line to protect and serve their communities.

The entire Chicago Fire Department and the broader community mourn the loss of their colleague and extend their deepest sympathies to the grieving family and friends during this difficult time.

As the investigation unfolds, the city stands united in honoring the memory of Engineer EMT Wilbert Hayes, a devoted firefighter whose commitment to public service will be remembered and cherished by all who knew him.

May Wilbert Hayes rest in peace, and may his legacy continue to inspire and remind us of the bravery and selflessness displayed by our first responders every day.

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