Stepson of 4th Chicago firefighter dead from COVID-19: 'last thing any of us saw coming'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Michael Pickering, a 45-year-old veteran Chicago firefighter, died from COVID-19 complications Friday morning.

Pickering's stepson, John Christian, said his death was unexpected.

"Him getting sick like this was just the last thing any of us saw coming," Christian said. "We really didn't expect it to go this way."

Pickering's relatives said he got sick a few weeks ago and was eventually hospitalized and placed on a respirator. It's unclear how he contracted the virus.

Pickering, who joined the Chicago Fire Department in 2003 and was assigned to Engine 29 in the Bridgeport neighborhood, is the fourth member of the department to die from complications of the virus.

On April 7, 2020, Mario Araujo became the first member of the fire department to die from the virus. Araujo, 49, joined the fire department in October 2003 and spent most of his career on Truck 25, which operates out of Engine 102 in Rogers Park. Firefighter Edward Singleton died a week later from COVID-19 complications. Singleton, 55, worked at the firehouse at Midway Airport. In December, Paramedic Robert Truevillian died from the virus. The 55-year-old was assigned to ambulance 71, which operates out of the firehouse at 10458 S. Hoxie Ave.

"We definitely stayed with him until the end," Christian said. "We got the call this morning we need to get to the hospital. We got there as quick as we could, but unfortunately he's passed."

Pickering, who is also a father to two teenage girls, was escorted Friday afternoon by honor procession to the funeral home where his sacrifice was honored. Christian recalled the memories of his father following his death, added that he is comforted by the memory of his dedication and love.

"I grew up with him all through high school. There's a lot of memories: teaching me how to drive, signing me up for my first kickboxing class," Christian said. "He's definitely in a better place. The support he got now was amazing to see."

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.
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