The Village of South Holland is deeply saddened to report the tragic loss of firefighter Dylan Cunningham, 29, following an underwater dive on Wednesday, Sept. 30.
The cause of the incident is under investigation.
The incident occurred at Haigh Quarry Lake in Kankakee. Cunningham was first rushed to St. Mary’s Hospital in Kankakee, then transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where he died at 10:04 p.m.
A procession of fire engines traveled from Northwestern Memorial to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office on Thursday morning in Cunningham’s honor.
“Dylan was a beloved member of our team,” said South Holland Fire Chief Brian Kolosh. “He was dedicated, loyal, hard-working, and also a lot of fun to be around. We are devastated by this loss and are grieving with Dylan’s family.”
Cunningham has been a member of the South Holland Fire Department since 2011. He started as a part-time firefighter, and began serving full time in 2018. He also served in the Illinois Army National Guard since 2012.
He lived in Thornton with his fiancée and was expecting a child. His mother, Rosemary Cunningham, is a trustee for the village of Thornton.
Cunningham attended Thornwood High School in South Holland, where he excelled as a multi-sport athlete. He received an Associate Degree of Fire Science at Prairie State College, then later trained in Poland to become a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist for the Illinois Army National Guard. In October 2018, he received a Gold Seal from the South Cook County EMS Medical Director for his work in saving a patient on an EMS call.
“He was a focused and mature young man who was a great village employee. Our village board and administration recognize the quality of his character and the special person he was," said South Holland Mayor Don De Graff. "He represented so well who we are as a village. We will significantly miss his contributions going forward.”
The South Holland Fire Department has received an outpouring of support from surrounding communities. The following fire departments have provided assistance: Calumet City, Country Club Hills, Flossmoor, Glenwood, Hazel Crest, Homewood, Lansing, Markham, Riverdale and Thornton.
Many other departments throughout the region held processionals in Cunningham’s honor.
Village officials asked that members of the community keep the Cunningham family in their thoughts and prayers and to please respect their privacy during this very difficult time.