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CFD diver who died during river search added to training academy’s wall of honor

Juan Bucio's badge is revealed on August 21, 2018. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

Family and colleagues gathered in The Robert J. Quinn Fire Academy on Tuesday to honor the life of Juan Bucio, the Chicago Fire Department diver who died May 28 searching for a missing man who had fallen off a boat in the Chicago River.

The building where firefighters and paramedics sharpen their skills also serves as a solemn place of reflection for firefighters and family. Along a wall in the academy is a case that memorializes the fallen firefighters and paramedics with their badges and nameplates.

Chicago Fire Commissioner José A. Santiago called it a space of duality, where the hard work of firefighters sometimes comes to an end.

Dozens gathered at the academy under rainy skies. The entryway and hall were packed.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel reminded those gathered of Bucio’s heroism.

“Every badge on the wall of honor is a testament to the courage Chicago’s bravest embodied, a reminder of the daily danger Chicago’s bravest confront,” Emanuel said. “Juan Bucio never ran from that danger.”

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Bucio, 46, lost contact with his partner as they looked for 28-year-old Alberto Lopez, who fell overboard while boating with friends in the river’s South Branch. Bucio was pulled from the river, and taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Friends of Lopez found his body in the river four days later.

Emanuel recalled a previous Father’s Day when Bucio helped search for a missing 5-year-old boy who lost his life in Jackson Park.

“Chicago was made better because of Juan Bucio,” Emanuel said.

Emanuel then joined Santiago, Bucio’s two sons and the diver’s brother in unveiling badge number 5115 in the wall of honor display case as “Amazing Grace” echoed through the building.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Juan Bucio’s sons, Joshua and Jacob, and Fire Commissioner JosŽ A. Santiago. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times