Greensboro Firefighter Dies After Collapsing in Chicago Marathon
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – A firefighter from Greensboro died Sunday after collapsing 500 yards from the finish line of the Chicago Marathon.
Capt. William Caviness, 35, died around noon at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, Asst. Chief Clarence Hunter with the Greensboro Fire Department said. The 8-year veteran firefighter leaves behind a wife and two small children.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the Caviness family. The Greensboro Fire Department is grieving this great loss and will strive to support his family through this difficult time,” Hunter said.
Caviness, who was a member of Station #14, was running the marathon to raise money for the IAFF Burn Foundation. According to a site set up for donations, the firefighter had gathered $2,475 for the foundation, which works to improve the quality of life for burn victims.
Chicago police spokesman Darryl Baety said Caviness collapsed to the ground around 10:30 a.m. while running near the city’s South Side.
Five to six emergency medical doctors in addition to EMS personnel were stationed nearby, and there was “an immediate response, within seconds,” race medical director Dr. George Chiampas said.
Medical personnel were able to get the runner’s heart beating again, but he died an hour and 30 minutes after he was attended to, Chiampas said.
The family has been notified, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The medical examiner’s office said an autopsy is planned for Monday.
The race-time temperature was 64 and reached the high 70s on Sunday afternoon, the fourth time in five years the weather was unusually warm.
Even so, Chiampas said only 54 people were taken by ambulance to the hospital this year, compared to 100 in 2010 and 85 in 2008 under similar conditions.
“Temperature spikes did not occur,” Chiampas said. “We had some cool lake breezes that came in toward mid-day and later in the afternoon, which kept us in that yellow (alert level). We never went to red, which we did have to go into in 2010 and 2008.”
The incident marks the second time in five years that a runner died at Chicago’s marquee race.
Chad Schieber, a 35-year-old Michigan police officer and father of three, died during the 2007 race. An autopsy blamed his death on a heart condition called mitral valve prolapse, and coroners said tests showed no evidence he was dehydrated.
After Schieber’s death, organizers improved communication between various agencies and the runners. They also added more water distribution points and medical aid stations.
There have been a handful of deaths recently at triathlons and the sport’s governing body in the U.S. is creating a task force to determine if anything can be done to prevent them. That decision by USA Triathlon comes in the wake of deaths at events in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Louisville, Ky.
Even so, incidents like this remain rare.
At marathons, Chiampas said they usually occur near the finish line or within the last half mile or mile.
“There’s some thought that during the competition, if there’s some type of adrenalin surge, that potentially may be one of the issues that puts them in this type of situation,” Chiampas said. “Those are some of the things that we look at.”