Chicago honors fire department diver who died during rescue mission

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Juan Bucio

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - A Chicago Fire Department diver died and two others were injured Monday night while searching for a 28-year-old man who fell off a boat on the Chicago River on the Lower West Side.

Firefighters responded at 7:49 p.m. in the 2600 block of South Ashland after others on the boat called 911 to report the fall, according to the Chicago Fire Department.

While searching for the man, one diver became separated from the rest of the team, said Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago.

Juan Bucio, 46, a firefighter who specialized in diving, was in the water when his dive partner lost contact with him. He was eventually located and pulled from the river by backup divers who jumped in to search for him.

Bucio was taken to Stroger Hospital by ambulance and CPR was performed on the way, Santiago said.

He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 10:02 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Bucio joined the CFD in 2003 and had been a member of the dive team since 2007. He is survived by his two sons, ages 7 and 9, and nine siblings. One of his brothers is a fellow CFD firefighter, and one of his sisters is a Chicago Police officer, Santiago said.

“A piece of Chicago was lost tonight,” said CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson in a statement Tuesday. Johnson called Bucio “a hero who dedicated and ultimately gave his life attempting to save others.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel also released a statement early Tuesday, praising Bucio for his heroism.

“When the call came for help, Juan Bucio was the special type of person who answered,” the mayor said. “He will be missed, but his service and selflessness will be remembered.”

Bucio is the 13th member of the Chicago Fire Department to have died in the line of duty since 2000, according to the Illinois Fire Service Institute.

The last line of duty death happened in December of 2015, when firefighter Daniel Capuano died from injuries suffered in a fall, according to the institute.

Ladders and an American flag were raised for a procession as Bucio’s body was brought from Stroger Hospital to the Cook County Morgue early Tuesday. Dozens of CFD and CPD personnel lined up and saluted as the ambulance drove past.

“Please keep the family in your prayers,” said Santiago.

Two other divers were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in good condition, Santiago said. They have since been released.

Officers with the Chicago Police Marine Unit suspended their search for the man who fell off the boat about 2 a.m. The unit will start searching again after sunrise near West 26th Street and South Ashland Avenue, police said.

No further information was immediately made available.