Tragic Details About The Cast Of Chicago Fire

Note: The following article includes references to alcohol addiction.

Fans of "Chicago Fire" can always assure themselves that the woeful moments they witness on the show are just fictitious, but sadly, some of their favorite actors have endured real-life tragedies. On the lesser end of the tragic scale, there are cast exits, such as that of Yuri Sardarov. "At first it felt like a bit of a betrayal killing the character," Sardarov told the Chicago Tribune of his reaction to learning that Brian "Otis" Zvonecek was to meet his untimely end. He added, "It was a shock because I would be saying goodbye to people who are like my family at this point."

To create emotional moments for "Chicago Fire," the show's writers will figuratively throw fire at situations that are already heartbreaking. Case in point: when a building collapse killed heroic paramedic Evan Hawkins (Jimmy Nicholas), Hawkin's girlfriend, Violet Mikami (Hanako Greensmith), was present to witness his demise. For some of the show's stars, their own tragedies have been compounded by other misfortunes. Per the Chicago Tribune, actor Jose Miñoso, who plays Joe Cruz on the show, was still mourning the loss of his mother when his sister became an early casualty of the pandemic in 2020. "Then on the heels of that came the summer of social injustice awareness," he said.

From other tragic losses to family issues, struggles with addiction, and experiences with bigotry, the "Chicago Fire" cast's truth is just as heart-rending as their fiction.

David Eigenberg overcame alcoholism

Seasoned Firehouse 51 vet David Eigenberg, who is also known for playing Steve Brady in "And Just Like That" and "Sex and the City," told The Day that he wasn't in the best headspace growing up in the Chicago suburb of Naperville. "I was just an angry young kid. I think I was a little bit on fire," he said. "My family was lovely, but they had quite a few problems." 

Eventually, he tried to drown his sorrows by turning to the bottle. According to Eigenberg's now-defunct personal website, he was a teenager when he started drinking alcohol and experimenting with drugs. Some of his behavior attracted the attention of local law enforcement. "I got arrested a bunch of times, some for not-so-good stuff, some for innocuous, silly stuff like pool hopping after hours," he recalled to West Suburban Living.

When he was in his 20s, Eigenberg had a roommate whose decision to get sober inspired him to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. He admitted to not recognizing that he needed help until then, and his mind took him to a dark place when he realized that he could lose his life to addiction. Eigenberg recalled envisioning his loved ones at his funeral and believing they would be too focused on his wasted potential as a performer to feel sorrow over his death. "My realization was that I didn't see tears in the eyes of those that cared about me," he told The Day.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Daniel Kyri's family struggled to accept his sexuality

Chicago native Daniel Kyri was out and proud as queer long before "Chicago Fire" fans learned that his character, Darren Ritter, is gay. In a 2023 interview with Today, Kyri revealed that his sexuality is something that his family struggled to come to terms with. This resulted in an estrangement that lasted around half a decade. "For a long while, as I was becoming the man that I am today, I was on my own," said Kyri. Eventually, his family decided that they wanted to be part of his life again, but he let them know upfront that he was going to be unapologetically himself. He recalled saying to them, "I have to accept you, not the other way around."

Kyri found himself on the receiving end of bigotry again when Ritter casually mentioned that he had a boyfriend during a Season 8 episode of "Chicago Fire" in 2019. Speaking to NBC News, Kyri expressed hope that his character wouldn't just resonate with LGBTQ+ viewers but would help promote acceptance among those who initially recoiled at the revelation. "That kind of negative feedback that comes from a place of ignorance and fear, I think, needs to be addressed at every turn," he said.

According to Kyri, homophobia isn't the only adversity he's faced in his life or even the worst. He told Bello, "I have been made to feel unwelcome or small more often because I am Black than because of my sexuality."

The tragic death of Taylor Kinney's on-screen father

In June 2023, the Chicago One family mourned the death of Treat Williams. The 71-year-old actor was riding a motorcycle in Dorset, Vermont, when he was struck by a car. He suffered traumatic injuries and was rushed to Albany Medical Center in New York, where he was pronounced dead. The motorist who crashed into Williams, Ryan Koss, was charged with "grossly negligent operation with death resulting." As reported by NBC5, Koss pleaded not guilty to the charge in September 2023.

During Season 2 of "Chicago Fire," Williams joined the cast in a recurring role as Benny Severide, the father of Taylor Kinney's character Kelly Severide. Benny was killed off during Season 7, but Williams left a lasting impression on his former castmates. In a statement to People, Kinney said of Williams' tragic death, "He played my father on Chicago Fire, and was a father figure to everyone on set. I'll always relish our conversations and his uncanny ability to light up a room. We all send love, he will be missed." 

Kim Delaney, who played Benny's ex-wife on the show, also paid tribute to the actor. "Sooo sad," she captioned an Instagram photo of herself and Williams smiling outside Carmine's restaurant in Chicago. "Amazing, kind man always. Condolences to all his family." Williams was also known for his roles in "Everwood" and "Hair," and he's among the many "Blue Bloods" stars whose deaths have saddened fans of the procedural.

Miranda Rae Mayo's role affected her mental health

In a 2022 interview with Essence, Miranda Rae Mayo spoke about the ups and downs of bringing Lieutenant Stella Kidd to life. She seemingly has no complaints about her "Chicago Fire" castmates or the on-set environment, saying, "Stella has been an incredible vehicle for me to explore many different sides of myself. And being able to do that in a community with the cast I work with has affected my mental health tremendously." 

However, portraying a character who constantly finds herself in stressful situations is no cakewalk. "It has also been challenging to go through that kind of shadow work in public. I mean, there's a lot of pressure that I have put on myself to be quote-unquote perfect," she added.

Mayo seemed to elaborate on this pressure while speaking to Forbes in 2019, sharing her concern that she wouldn't do real-life female firefighters justice. At the time, there was one job requirement in particular that she was struggling with — getting behind the wheel of a firetruck. "I was a wreck the first time I actually did it," she said. According to Mayo, knowing that she's driving around with camera operators perched atop the large vehicle increases her anxiety; just imagine how horrible she'd feel if one of them fell off.

Mayo told Essence that she often struggles with feeling anxious, but one of her hobbies is a great coping mechanism. "I've been going to my piano room and singing and playing. And that's helped a lot," she said.

The devastating death of DuShon Monique Brown

Fans of "Chicago Fire" had to say a sad farewell to another member of the show's cast when DuShon Monique Brown died in 2018. According to TMZ, she had experienced chest pain days before her death and had gone to the hospital. The outlet didn't report if she received a diagnosis from doctors at the time, but her cause of death was later determined to be a blood infection. Brown was just 49 years old.

 "We are devastated by the loss of a very talented and kindhearted soul," the actor's rep said in a statement to Today. "She brought laughter and joy to many and will be greatly missed." Brown's survivors included a daughter named Zoe.

Brown played the recurring role of Connie, the administrative assistant of Chief Wallace Boden (Eamonn Walker). On the show, Connie wasn't killed off. Instead, Boden informed his colleagues that she had decided to become a school counselor. Brown had actually been a counselor before, so this served as a way to honor the good work that she did before being welcomed into the Firehouse 51 fold. Showrunner Derek Haas consulted with Walker about concluding her story in this manner, and Walker gave his late co-star's family a heads-up about the plan. "I wrote it as what I wanted to say. We didn't get a chance to say goodbye, but she was loved," Haas told the Chicago Tribune, echoing what Boden said on the show.

Scientology came between Christian Stolte and his daughter

In a video interview with journalist Tony Ortega, Randy "Mouch" McHolland actor Christian Stolte revealed that he was briefly a member of the Church of Scientology before he pursued an acting career and even worked for the organization. Christian said that his ex-wife became deeply enmeshed with the church after they separated, as did his oldest daughter, Corinne Stolte. This caused a rift between Christian and Corinne. "We battled about it," Christian recalled. "It kind of broke my heart to have to be critical of this thing that she was kind of proud of."

Christian offered to give Corinne $100 if she would read Jenna Miscavige Hill's memoir about leaving the church, "Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape." Corinne didn't take the money because she already planned on reading the book, a revelation Christian was happy about. After she completed it, she let her elated father know that she'd been thinking about cutting ties with the organization already.

Corinne was 18 when she left the church, and this decision led to a serendipitous moment when she started working as a production assistant for "Chicago P.D." One of the show's cast members, Jason Beghe, is also a former Scientologist, so he took Corinne under his wing. Sadly, this friendship resulted in the church forbidding Corinne's birth mother to speak to her. "My daughter never caves to it and she stood her ground," said Christian.