|Agency||Chicago Fire Department|
|Type of Firefighter||Career|
|Age Range||26 to 30|
|Date of Birth||0/0/0|
|Date of Death||11/24/1954|
|Cause of Death||Vehicle collision|
|Nature of Death||Trauma|
|Attribute of Death||[not applicable]|
|Type of Duty||Responding to/returning from incident|
On November 24, 1954, a fire started teenagers indirectly resulted in the death of three Chicago Fire Department firefighters. During the early morning, the teenage burglars broke into Loring School for Girls on Loringwood Drive. Before leaving the school, however, the teens started a fire to destroy any fingerprints that they may have left.
While responding to the school fire, Chicago Fire Department Engine 62 collided with a delivery truck that failed to stop at a red light. Firefighters Stephen Kadar and Harold DeKoker were fatally injured in the collision. At the scene of the school fire, Firefighter Walter Schielke suffered a fatal heart attack while operating a hand pump.
Five teenagers were eventually charged with burglary and four of them were charged with arson. The five teenagers were also charged with assault to kill after investigators determined that they had also sent a man to the hospital with a minor stab wound during the same night as the fire. The coroner, however, indicated he could find “no legal basis for linking the deaths of the firemen with the five young men.” He stated that he believed his decision to be “a legal opinion, not a moral one.” The driver of the delivery truck was charged with reckless homicide, failure to yield right of way to an emergency vehicle, and running a red light.
“Tells Looting School Prior to Fatal Fire,” Chicago Daily Tribune, November 25, 1954.
“3 Teen-Agers Admit Fatal School Fire,” Chicago Daily Tribune, November 26, 1954.
“3 Teen-Agers name 2 Others in Arson Gang,” Chicago Daily Tribune, November 27, 1954.
“Hunt 5th Man in Blaze that Cost Lives of 3,” Chicago Daily Tribune, November 28, 1954.
“Coroner Raps Gutknecht for ‘Jumping Gun’,” Chicago Daily Tribune, December 1, 1954.