Runner collapses at Chicago Marathon, dies

October 10, 2011 3:47:07 AM PDT
In the first Chicago Marathon death since 2007, a fireman from Greensboro, N.C., died after collapsing during the race Sunday.

Greensboro Deputy Fire Chief Clarence Hunter identified the victim as William Caviness. Caviness was a captain with the fire department. His chief released a statement Sunday calling Caviness' death a tremendous loss.

Hunter said Caviness was running the marathon to raise money to help burn victims.Caviness even set up a public website to raise money for the IAFF Burn Foundation. A number of people made donations after hearing of his death, including one other marathoner.

Caviness, 35, was running with his brother when he collapsed just after 10:30 a.m. Sunday about 500 yards from the finish line near Roosevelt and Indiana.

Authorities say the runner was treated for cardiac arrest at the scene. First-responders were apparently able to get a pulse, but the man died about noon at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center. An autopsy will be performed Monday to determine the exact cause of death.

Marathon officials say the medical response was immediate. There were five to six emergency doctors within a short distance. They say that while doctors are placed all along the route, many are within a half-mile of the finish line or at the finish line. They say that is the area where most medical problems occur.

"There is some thought that during a competition, if there's some type of adrenaline surge, that potentially may be one of the issues that puts them in this type of situation. Those are some of the things that we look at with regards to sports medicine and emergency medicine," said marathon medical director Dr. George Chiampas.

Despite Sunday's death, the marathon director says that medically the marathon was very successful. Only 54 people were taken by ambulance to the hospital this year, compared to 100 in 2010 and 85 in 2008 under similar conditions. While it was a warm day, marathon officials say the heat was not a factor. They say the temperatures never spiked, and that was because of the breeze.

The Sun-Times Media Wire and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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