Dolton Firefighter Collapses, Dies Fighting Mobile Home Fire on Rockwell Ave, Harvey


Harvey and Dolton firefighters responded about 1:30 p.m. Saturday June 10, 2017 to a report of a fire involving multiple mobile homes at 15031 Rockwell Avenue. Dolton firefighters responded for mutual aid. A Dolton Fire Department crew was assigned to extinguish an area of rubbish where the fire was spreading. Firefighter Lawrence Matthews was part of that crew and experienced shortness of breath and leaned on a fence. The 36-year-old firefighter then collapsed and was unresponsive. He was immediately treated at the scene and rushed to Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey, Illinois. Matthews was pronounced dead at the hospital after treatment with Advanced Cardiac Life Support.

Matthews joined the fire department in 2009 after having a life-saving heart transplant procedure in 2007, and met his wife at the hospital. Ten years ago last week, he had received a life-saving heart transplant, according to his Facebook page. In July 2016, Matthews participated in a village of Dolton video promoting an upcoming health fair. Matthews was passionate about health promotion.

“We were doing exterior work. It was a defensive fire. Our crews were … the fire was spreading to a rubbish fire and that’s where he was going to tend to. He wasn’t even out there that long.”

— Steve McCain, Dolton Fire Chief

Matthews coached Little League baseball, and was helping administer exams to 250 applicants to the Dolton Fire Department before getting called out to Saturday’s fire.

“He was a jovial guy. He loved his job. He was a family man of four little ones. Loved his wife. He loved his job. It’s going to be tough.”

— Steve McCain, Dolton Fire Chief

A procession of police, and fire department vehicles from the south suburbs accompanied the body of Dolton firefighter Lawrence Matthews from Ingalls Hospital in Harvey to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office in Chicago Saturday afternoon.

Matthews is survived by four children, one girl and three boys — ages three- to 11 years-old. He had been a involved with the Dolton fire department since at least 2008.

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