Wake held for Chicago firefighter

August 12, 2010 (OAK LAWN, Ill.)

Wheatley died on Monday when he fell off a ladder while battling a restaurant fire in the West Loop neighborhood.

His family and colleagues say he was passionate about his job and life.

"There are no words in the English language to relieve the pain. We lost a real hero. Chris gave his whole life to others. He had a servant's heart. Talking to his mom, his dad, his sister, his brother-in-law, his fiancée, he was full of life. He loved sports and he loved people and he wanted to serve people and he lost his life dedicated to saving lives," said Gov. Pat Quinn.

The 4700-block of 103rd Street in Oak Lawn in front of the Blake Lamb Funeral Home was lined with fire trucks, including one with a ladder flying the American flag. They paid tribute to a young man who dreamed of being a firefighter-paramedic and doing what he loved best.

Hundred of family members, friends, firefighters and officials arrived early to attend the wake.

The 31-year-old firefighter was carrying up to 75 pounds of equipment up a ladder attached to the Avec restaurant on 615 W. Randolph when he slipped and plunged to his death. Police and fire crews lined the streets as Ambulances number 15 carried the young fireman's body to the Cook County medical examiner.

Wheatley lived on the near West Side. He is survived by his mother, father, sister and fiancee. The firefighter's family released a statement saying, "Chris' mother, Mary Wheatley, says the loss of her son is a hole that can never be filled. She is comforted by his memory and his impact on the lives of others and will always remember that he helped and touched so many in his life and career."

Wheatley, a firefighter for 10 years, worked at Engine Company Number 5 located in the West Loop. Friends and family say he will always be remembered for his commitment and passion for what he did.

"Even who knew him knew he was a special guy and it is really sad to lose an all-American hero and that's Chris," said Quinn.

His fiancée, Jessica, said that she was lucky to have Wheatley in her life.

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