Chicago Fire department diver seeking missing boater dies in river

CHICAGO — The Chicago Fire Department diver who died during a rescue attempt Monday was a father of two and 15-year veteran of the department.

Juan Bucio, 46, was pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital on Monday after he got separated from his partner during a search in the Chicago River near the 2600 block of South Ashland Avenue.

A 28-year-old man, identified by friends as Alberto Lopez, had fallen off a boat in the river about 8 p.m. Monday, authorities said. Divers continued to search for Lopez's body Tuesday morning.

Fire officials said Bucio joined the department in 2003 and has been a diver since 2007. His brother is also a Chicago firefighter; his sister is a Chicago police officer, the Tribune reported.

Bucio is survived by his wife and two sons, ages 7 and 9.

Fellow firefighters declined to speak with reporters Tuesday. Black and purple bunting was draped at Bucio's station at 259 N. Columbus Dr. near Millennium Park.

"Our hearts are heavy tonight as Chicago lost a hero in Firefighter Juan Bucio." Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement Monday night. "When the call came for help, Juan Bucio was that special type of person who answered. He was dedicated to Chicago and committed to keeping us all safe. He will be missed, but his service and his selflessness will be remembered. Amy and I extend our prayers to our fallen firefighter, his family and his colleagues that make up the best Fire Department in the world."

Bucio is the 13th firefighter killed since 2000.

According to Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Jose Santiago, Bucio was in the Chicago River with a dive partner Monday night when the pair lost contact: "During the search, one of our divers became separated. Immediate search started with the backup divers."

Bucio was pulled from the water and later pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital.

Two other divers were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.