South Holland Firefighter Dies During Dive Training Exercise at Haigh Quarry Lake Near Kankakee

Firefighter Dylan Cunningham, South Holland Fire Department
Firefighter Dylan Cunningham, South Holland Fire Department.

South Holland firefighter Dylan Cunningham, age 29, died after a dive training exercise in Kankakee on Wednesday, September 30, 2020. Cunningham was sworn in as a full-time in February 2018, after serving as a part-time firefighter at the South Holland Fire Department since 2011, according to South Holland Village Administrator J. Wynsma. Dylan Cunningham also served in the Illinois National Guard since 2012.

“In the days ahead we will be doing everything we can to support the Cunningham family,” Wynsma said in a statement. “We ask that you keep Dylan’s family and loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.”

Dylan Cunningham, age 29, of Thornton was transported from Haigh Quarry Lake, Kankakee, to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he died at 10:40 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. A procession transported his body from Northwestern Memorial Hospital to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office early Thursday.

“We know you have many questions, and so do we. Our efforts will bring conclusions that we will share with you in the coming days.”

— South Holland Village Administrator J. Wynsma

South Holland Village Administrator J. Wynsma said the south suburb was “deeply saddened to report the tragic loss” of Cunningham, a 9-year department veteran who died after an underwater dive training exercise. Wynsma spoke of having the privilege of swearing Dylan in as a full-time firefighter with the South Holland Fire Department in February 2018.

The cause of death was not initially determined. An autopsy is scheduled with Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Firefighter Dylan Cunningham, South Holland Fire Department
Firefighter Dylan Cunningham, South Holland Fire Department.

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Haigh Quarry Lake Aerial View (©2020 Google Maps)
Haigh Quarry Lake Aerial View (©2020 Google Maps).

Recreational divers, students and technical divers have been using the Haigh Quarry Lake since 1992. The lake includes underwater attractions and photography opportunities of a diverse fish population.

According to Haigh Quarry officials, the water temperature was 75°F at 20 feet on August 28, 2020. Water temperature at 20 feet was 68°F at 20 feet, and 58°F at 50 feet on September 26, 2020.