HARVEY, Ill. -- A Dolton firefighter and father of four died of a heart attack Saturday afternoon while battling a blaze at a mobile home park in Harvey.
Firefighters from Harvey responded to calls of a multiple mobile homes on fire around 1:30 p.m. Saturday, and when it became apparent they would need help, they called in the Dolton Fire Department for assistance, according to Harvey spokesman Sean Howard.
After the Dolton Fire Department was on the scene, 36-year-old fireman Lawrence Matthews took a moment to catch his breath by leaning up against a fence. Then, he collapsed. He had gone into cardiac arrest, officials said, and although he was rushed to Ingalls Memorial Hospital, he was later pronounced dead.
“I’m in shock - it’s a total loss.” said Dolton Fire Chief Steven McCain. “He was a family man. Four little ones. Loved his wife. Loved the job.”
According to his Facebook page and an article by the University of Chicago Medicine Lawrence had a heart transplant 10 years ago – but that wasn’t going to stop him. He was determined to be a firefighter, and joined the Dolton Fire Department in 2009, determined to live a normal life and chase a dream he previously thought was impossible with his heart condition.
“He was just doing his job today and it cost him his life," said Dolton Mayor Riley Rogers.
Matthews is survived by four children, one girl and three boys, who range in age from three to 11 years old. Dozens of firefighters and police officers escorted his body to the Medical Examiner’s office, a moving testament to the man Matthews was and the family he leaves behind.
“It’s gonna be tough. It’s gonna be something that the dolton fire family as well as the rest of the fire service family is just gonna have to deal with in the south suburbs,” Chief McCain said.
The City of Harvey says they plan to honor Matthews on Monday. With Father’s Day just around the corner the Dolton Fire Department says it will do everything possible to make sure Matthews’ family has everything they need.