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Denver firefighter dies more than two weeks after falling through skylight

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DENVER -- John Whelan, a Denver firefighter who was injured while fighting a fire north of downtown last month, died Wednesday night, the Denver Fire Department said.

Whelan was on a routine call of a dumpster fire on June 28. Crews were able to put out the fire quickly but to make sure everything was OK, Whelan and other firefighters climbed onto the roof of a building at 3860 Blake St.

That’s when Whelan stepped on a skylight and fell about 25 feet onto the concrete below. He suffered injuries that included a broken arm, broken ribs and some internal injuries.

His injuries were said to be non-life threatening and he was released from the hospital several days ago.

Then Wednesday night, Whelan went into cardiac arrest and died.

Denver Fire said in a news release that Whelan was taken to St. Anthony North about 7:45 p.m. with shortness of breath and he was pronounced dead at 8:30 p.m.

An autopsy ruled his death to be from complications of the injuries sustained in the line of duty.

“John`s death highlights the risk that our uniformed personal take every day to keep us all safe and reminds us of how fragile life can be for those who rush towards dangerous situations,” said Denver Executive Director of Safety, Stephanie O`Malley.

Under a Denver Fire Department flag flying at half-staff, outside DFD headquarters, the entrance bearing the slogan "Everyone Comes Home", and next to a statue honoring firefighters, fallen in the line of duty, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said, “We honor a 15 year veteran firefighter who served this great city proudly.”

“Engineer Whelan was a hero of our fire department,” Mayor Hancock said.

Whelan's name will be added to this fallen firefighters memorial.

“Our top priorities at this time are providing support to his family and our collective family the Denver Fire Department. We will make all our resources available to our entire staff as we grieve this monumental loss,” Denver Fire Chief, Eric Tade said through tears.

He leaves behind a wife and young son.  Memorial services have not yet been set.

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