As Truck 44 drove through the streets of Lincoln Park, children would wave and the engine’s
Lead driver, Andrew “Drew” Price, would respond with his signature shaka sign — a symbol for expressing thanks.
For Price, gratitude was a way of life.
“He gave a piece of himself to each and every person he encountered,” Jordan Price said at his brother’s funeral Monday morning. “Drew lived a life worth emulating, and as his lasting legacy, I hope he inspired you to live a life full of gratitude.”
Price, 39, died Nov. 13 battling an extra-alarm blaze in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue.
It was just after 5 am and Price and his colleagues were preparing to head home after working overnight.
A call came in for a fire in a four-story building, and Price and his crew swung into action, Capt. John Haring recalled Monday.
Price put his Truck 44 crew quickly to work, “without hesitation” heading up to the roof of the building to open holes for ventilation.
When they got to the roof, Price turned to a crew member and pointed out the sun rising over the skyline in the distance and said, “Mahalo brah, let’s get to work.”
“Drew always took time to see the best parts of life, the parts that many of us never noticed,” Haring said. “Drew, you are very, very special.”
Price fell through the shaft of a skylight and landed on the basement floor, according to officials.
He was taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where he died of “significant injuries,” according to Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt.
On Monday morning, hundreds gathered at Navy Pier to express gratitude for the time they had with Price. His wife, Lara Price, stood alongside his mother, Rochelle, and his four siblings — a tight-knit crew known among friends as “The Fabulous Five”
Before the service began, members of the Chicago Fire Department, Chicago Police Department and suburban police and fire agencies gave Price his final salute. Nance-Holt noted it was one of the longest walk-throughs that she had ever seen.
“His personality and zest for life was infectious, his impact on his fellow brothers and sisters will live forever,” Nance-Holt said. “What I know about Drew is he brought people together. He brought different races, different classes, and different people together. “I have cared… I have made an impact on all of our lives.”
Price joined the fire department in 2009 and spent the last decade at Engine 55, working his way up to lead driver of Truck 44. He was also an instructor at the academy.
Engine 55 crew members described Price as genuine, big-hearted and hard-working. He was always the first to the firehouse in the morning, always looking out for others and checking in after a long day.
He had a way of making everyone around him happier, fellow members said, and he was the ultimate jokester, often hiding under the beds of coworkers, waiting to jump out and scare them.
Anytime you saw Price, even if it was just for a couple of minutes, he would send you a text later saying how great it was to see you, his close friend and fellow firefighter Dustin Johnson said.
Price adopted the saying “mahalo,” an expression of thanks and gratitude during a solo trip to Hawaii.
Mahalo became a signature phrase and the shaka sign his go-to gesture.
Price’s Battalion Chief Patrick Gallagher admitted that he did not understand the shaka sign at first.
“To be honest, my simple mind went to what part of Indiana are Hawaiians living in, but I finally looked it up,” Gallagher said. It’s a symbol of gratitude or thank you. The shaka is rarely if ever used in a sarcastic manner. It’s kept sincere and pure, just as it should be. Sincere and pure — to me that’s who Drew was.”
Price is the fourth Chicago Fire Department member to die in the line of duty this year.