Visitation held for 2nd firefighter killed last week

December 29, 2010 6:59:39 PM PST
Hundreds of mourners paid tribute Wednesday to a firefighter who was killed last week in a roof collapse.

Visitation for Corey Ankum, 34, took place from 2-8 p.m. at Apostolic Church of God in Chicago. His funeral is Thursday at the same church. It will be streamed live on abc7chicago.com.

Ankum and firefighter Edward Stringer were killed one week ago when the roof of an abandoned building collapsed during a fire. Investigators believe the fire was started by homeless people burning garbage and wood to stay warm.

Ankum was a police officer until he became a firefighter more than a year ago. Friends and colleagues called him a natural born leader.

"I'm just going to miss Corey's jokes and laughter. He's always at the party, loud but funny," said friend Ramina Velez.

Velez, who grew up with Ankum, joined the crowd of relatives, friends and colleagues who honored the fallen firefighter at the visitation.

"It was a huge loss, huge loss. You could just feel it in the city ... The city is mourning," said friend Heather Moore.

"He used to come to my house all the time as a kid and play with my son. I have a son about his age, who was a couple years older, and it's just been a bad, sad time for us all," said Eleazar Ayers, cousin.

Ankum's superiors praised him as a well-rounded, family man.

"He was multi-talented. He would give 110-percent everything he did," said Leiutenant Larry Anoman, Chicago Fire Department.

Lieutenant Anoman took Ankum under his wing after he graduated from the academy more than a year ago.

"I would look at him and smile at him and say, 'what do you think, Core, you like this job?' He'd always smile back. He always wanted to be a fireman," Anoman told ABC7.

"I know his parents, I know his grandmother, I know his sister and my heart is with the family. And if I could say to him, I would say, 'you fought a good fight. God has rewarded you for all the good that you've done," said Sherrill Thomas.

In an emotional tribute, hundreds of Chicago firefighters filed past Ankum's for a final salute.

"People are very upset. This is now the third day we have gone through this, another day to come tomorrow, and people's emotions are raw, they are wearing them on their sleeve," said Tom Ryan, firefighters union. "But we are a family, we stick by one other, we gather strength from each other."

Ankum leaves behind a wife and three children.

City officials are still considering taking legal action against 60-year-old Richard Dai, the owner of the building where Stringer and Ankum died.

Dai faced several violations in 2007, including one for roof problems at the abandoned laundry facility. Now, officials say they're trying to figure out which ones he failed to fix. A court order said he had to have it done by November of this year. He could face fines, a civil suit from the city or even criminal charges.

Dai told ABC7 that he's going through a "tough time" and his heart goes out to the families.

Funeral services were held for firefighter Stringer Tuesday. Firefighters came from nationwide, and even Canada, to show their respect for Stringer. After the service, hundreds of vehicles joined a procession as the casket was taken to Beverly Cemetery.

Donations are being accepted at Harris Bank for both the Stringer and Ankum families.


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