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Hobart fire battalion chief dies

Updated: December 29, 2013 10:46PM

A battalion chief with the Hobart Fire Department who crashed his family’s minivan into his home outside of Hebron after a domestic disturbance earlier this month died early Sunday.

John C. Wall, 48, suffered severe burns to his hands and face in the Dec. 10 incident. A representative with the Cook County, Ill., Medical Examiner’s Office said Wall died at 12:50 a.m. at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill.

The office is expected to release a cause of death Monday afternoon, though Sgt. Larry LaFlower, public information officer with the Porter County Sheriff’s Department, said Wall went into septic shock Saturday and was subsequently taken off of a ventilator.

Those who knew Wall recalled him as a leader and a hard worker who could have been Hobart’s next fire chief.

“My brother was a loving, honorable, kind and generous man who had two sons he adored,” said Wall’s younger sister, Darla Winland, who added that looking at the fire department’s Facebook page showed the high regard in which his fellow firefighters held him. “And he had a wonderful, exemplary 20-year career with the Hobart Fire Department. Being a firefighter was his dream, his passion and his life. The world has lost an amazing person.”

Wall started with the department on Dec. 17, 1993, said Tom Castle, president of Hobart Firefighters Union Local 1641. In addition to taking on overtime with the department, Wall also worked two part-time jobs at the steel mills, often clocking in 90 to 100 hours a week.

“John worked and worked and worked for his family,” Castle said, adding Wall was like a brother to him.

Castle recommended Wall to Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor as the next fire chief. “That’s how highly I thought of him. That’s how the rest of the department thought of him.”

Wall, who was on leave from the fire department and had sought mental health counseling, was charged in late November with multiple felonies after attacking his wife and threatening her with a gun.

Despite Wall’s recent troubles, Snedecor said he knew Wall as a firefighter who served the city well. Wall was not only a comrade in the fire department, but also a good friend, the mayor said.

“He was known by the rank and file to be hard working and dedicated, and to be a leader. Other firefighters, from everything I know, looked up to him as a very good supervisor,” the mayor said. “He was a firefighter’s firefighter as far as being a leader, and one they would look up to, and he took his job very seriously.”

Arrangements are pending at Burns Funeral Home in Hobart.

Correspondent Michelle Quinn contributed to this report.

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