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Fallen Chicago FF remembered as ‘a truly perfect human being’

Firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price loved being a firefighter and was loved by many


Chicago Fire Media/X

By Rebecca Johnson, Sam Charles, Alysa Guffey
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — A Chicago Fire Department firefighter described as “loved by so many” died Monday morning after succumbing to injuries suffered while battling a blaze in Lincoln Park, department officials said.

Andrew “Drew” Price, 39, was on the roof of the four-story building where the fire broke out when he fell through a shaft and was trapped, fire officials said. The building, at 2430-2432 N. Lincoln Ave., contains the Lincoln Station restaurant on the ground floor and apartments on the upper floors.

[EARLIER: LODD – Chicago firefighter dies after fall during fire]

Crews broke a hole through the wall to pull him out and performed CPR on him. Price was transported in critical condition to Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital, where he died, fire officials said.

Mike Adams said Price “just loved the idea of being a firefighter.”

“He was a truly perfect human being,” said Adams, who called Price one of his closest friends for almost 20 years. “There’s not much of that out there in the world.”

At a news conference outside the hospital, Battalion Chief Mike McCormick said a 45-year-old woman reported early Monday that there was a fire in a kitchen. When crews arrived around 5:30 a.m., they found light smoke, he said. The crews were searching for “hot pockets” of fire when Price fell through a light shaft from the roof.

Price was responsive when fellow firefighters initially got eyes on him, McCormick said.

“They were having a hard time getting to him,” McCormick said. “We had to breach a wall.”

Price suffered “significant injuries,” said Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt, who said she knew him personally.

Known affectionately as “Drew” by friends and family, Price was married with children, she said. She said he was a “health nut,” who worked out frequently and was “loved by so many.”

Nance-Holt said Price joined the Fire Department in 2009 and was an instructor at the academy. He was assigned to Truck No. 44 in 2015. Price is the fourth firefighter to die in the line of duty in Chicago this year.

“Keep the Chicago Fire Department in your prayers and his family especially as they realized what so many other families have this year, that this job is a very, very, very dangerous job and we go to work and we never know who will come home,” Nance-Holt said.

McCormick said Price was “as sweet as could be” and a “light of sunshine.” McCormick said he’d worked with him for almost 10 years.

“Never had a bad thing to say about anybody,” he said. “Kind of quiet, a good family man. Everybody loved him.”

About eight hours after the fire broke out, Price’s remains arrived at the Cook County medical examiner’s office on the Near West Side.

In keeping with tradition, two CFD engines held a 7-by-10 American flag over West Harrison Street while about 60 police and fire department officials stood in salute as the ambulance arrived a little after 2 p.m.

After the procession led into the medical examiner’s parking lot, Fire Department employees offered each other hugs and handshakes while bagpipers played hymns. One of the fire engines holding the flag blared its horn as the ambulance carrying Price neared the rear entrance to the county morgue.

Mayor Brandon Johnson said in a statement that his prayers are with Price’s family and colleagues, adding that “our collective hearts are heavy this morning.”

”Andrew gave his life in service to the city of Chicago, taking his position at the front lines of a threat to our safety and community,” Johnson said. “He made the ultimate sacrifice to protect those in harm’s way — a debt we can never repay.”

Adams said he was “so fortunate” to have just talked to his friend Sunday.

The pair met when Adams hired Price to work at a Schaumburg car dealership after Price graduated high school. Adams was a few years older than Price and served as a mentor to him, he said. The two became close friends outside of work, experiencing life through their 20s and 30s together.

Adams said he would sometimes drive Price to his internship at a suburban fire department.

On Monday afternoon, Benn Hamm, who’s owned Lincoln Station since 2010, stood outside the popular restaurant surrounded by co-workers and holding back tears. Hamm said he had been on the scene since about 6 a.m., watching firefighters fight the blaze as dark smoke billowed out of the building.

Hamm said the woman who cleans the restaurant called 911. He said he’s devastated over Price’s death.

“I was crushed about the fireman,” Hamm said. “My thoughts and prayers to his family because that’s just unbelievably tough.”

The restaurant’s windows were broken, with several people standing outside looking at the building, which is close to DePaul University’s Lincoln Park campus. Residents estimated that 30 people live in the apartments.

Sean Graney, 22, said he woke up at about 5 a.m. to the smell of smoke and someone banging on his door. Graney, who lives on the top floor of the building, said he threw on his clothes. He said he tried to exit down the back staircase but smoke forced him to turn around.

“I couldn’t see anything and I could hardly breathe,” Graney, a graduate student at Northwestern University, said. “So then we bolted to the front staircase.”

Graney waited alongside his roommate, pacing on the sidewalk just before noon, for news of whether they would be allowed back inside their apartment.

“For me, I’m just really sad,” Graney said. “This was my first apartment and then the firefighter dying, it’s just so sad.”

DePaul University is assisting 25 students in providing temporary shelter at the Ray Meyer Fitness Center on campus, spokesperson Russell Dorn said. Twenty-three of those students attend DePaul and two attend Northwestern. Dorn added that no injuries to students were reported.

The American Red Cross is helping displaced students with prescription and clothing needs.

Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said CFD did not suspect anything “nefarious” in how the fire started.

Outside the Lincoln Park fire station where Price worked, a couple dozen firefighters gathered Monday afternoon, some sitting on couches while others talked quietly. The mood was somber as a few people arrived at the station to embrace the firefighters.

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