CHICAGO (CBS) – A veteran Chicago Fire Department lieutenant has died of suspected West Nile Virus.

Thomas Flahive was a healthy 58-year-old, his fellow firefighters tell CBS 2’s Pamela Jones.

But that was before he was bitten by a mosquito while his family was at their vacation home in Wisconsin two weeks ago. Flahive reported to work the day before he went to the hospital.

Comrades at Flahive’s station at Milwaukee and Laramie in Jefferson Park say they were informed Flahive’s condition was grave but they were not prepared for his passing Thursday.

“You think of it as a disease that affects weak people. Tom was not that — he was a big strong man. So, it was a surprise – incredible, hard to comprehend and digest right now,” Deputy Fire Commissioner Mark Nielsen says.

Flahive’s favorite chair in the fire station’s communication room sat empty Thursday as family and friends prepared to say farewell.

Flahive is survived by a wife and three sons. He had been on the department since 1989.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya Reports

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