Hobart firefighter involved in domestic incident dies

2013-12-29T20:45:00Z 2013-12-30T14:52:18Z Hobart firefighter involved in domestic incident diesElvia Malagon elvia.malagon@nwi.com, (219) 933-3246 nwitimes.com
December 29, 2013 8:45 pm  • 

HOBART | A Hobart firefighter who was critically injured after driving his van into his home earlier this month died late Saturday, officials said.

John Wall, 48, of Hebron, died at 11:55 p.m. Saturday, the Cook County medical examiner's office said. An official cause of death was pending an autopsy that is scheduled for Monday. 

Sgt. Larry LaFlower, spokesman for the Porter County Sheriff's Department, said the family told deputies Wall went into septic shock Saturday and had to be taken off of a ventilator. 

Wall had spent the past couple of weeks at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. The burn injuries he was being treated for stemmed from a Dec. 10 domestic violence incident where he drove his car into his house.

Police said Wall went to his Hebron home and attacked his wife. He had been barred from the house because of a domestic violence incident that happened Nov. 25. His wife persuaded Wall to leave before their children woke up. 

While police were inside the house taking a report from his wife, Wall drove his van into the rear of the house, police said. The van and a portion of the house caught on fire. 

Officers confronted Wall who told officers to shoot him, police said. He then got into the burning van, but officers were able to pull him from the vehicle. 

Though Wall's last weeks were turbulent, Wall's sister and co-workers on Sunday described a different person than the one described in police reports. 

Wall worked as a battalion chief for the Hobart Fire Department. He had worked as a firefighter for 20 years and was recently on leave following last month's domestic incident in which he was accused of pointing a gun at his wife. 

He previously was considered a candidate to become the new Hobart fire chief but later withdrew his application. 

Tom Castle, president for the Hobart Firefighters Local 1641 Union, said he is sure Wall would have become the next Hobart fire chief if it weren't for the recent incidents.

"The mayor asked me a few months ago who I thought should be the next fire chief," Castle said. "I thought John Wall; I didn't even have to think about it for half a second."

Castle said he worked with Wall since 1993. He said Wall was well respected within the department and was known for being fair. He said Wall kept a schedule of overtime hours so that everyone would have a chance at getting overtime pay. 

He said though Wall was considered part of administration, Wall was not above fixing equipment. Castle recalled how Wall would even go to the different stations to change light bulbs. 

"He didn't have to do that kind of stuff," Castle said. "He just did because he cared about the department."

Castle said the majority of the Fire Department continued to support Wall after the incidents. He said many went to the hospital and were reeling Sunday from the news of his death. He said many took to Facebook to post condolences and memories of Wall. 

Rafael Cueto, a Hobart firefighter, said Wall was his battalion chief and worked with him for seven years. He said Sunday he was still in shock over everything. 

"He was the hardest working man; he's a great man," he said. "It's a big loss for the Fire Department."

John Wall's sister, Darla Winland, said she wants people to remember him as a hardworking person and devoted father to his two sons. 

"It's a very painful time for us," said Winland, of Valparaiso. "My brother's good name has been dragged through the mud."

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