May 25—A longtime member of the Chicago Fire Department died when the SUV he was driving smashed into a large tree on a curvy road in Beverly Hills, Calif., early Friday, officials said.
Nathaniel Ervin, 47, joined the department in 2004 as a firefighter EMT but was promoted to engineer last year, said Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford.
"He was the one who runs the fire engine and controls the water flow. That's his office," Langford said.
As First District relief engineer, Ervin would travel from firehouse to firehouse, wherever needed, covering a large swath of the city from downtown to up and down the lakefront all the way to 71st Street and then straight west.
Ervin took a trip to California with his nephew and a small group of Chicago firefighter friends but was alone in the 2019 Chevrolet Tahoe when the crash occurred early Friday morning.
Ervin was southbound in the 1100 block of Coldwater Canyon Drive about 5:35 a.m. when for unknown reasons he lost control and "collided with several objects," said Beverly Hills Police Lt. Giovanni Trejo.
Ervin may have been traveling at a high rate of speed on the road, which has a posted speed limit of 25 mph, judging from the damage to the SUV.
"The vehicle was pretty damaged, consistent to high speed, of the vehicle making impact with a solid object at a high rate of speed," Trejo said.
"The first officer who arrived on scene did not observe signs of life."
Ervin, who was wearing his seatbelt, had to be extricated from the vehicle, which also struck a curb and a light pole.
The weather conditions were calm and cool, and the road was dry.
His body was taken to the Los Angeles County coroner's office, Trejo said.
The cause of the wreck was being investigated, and witnesses were still being interviewed.
"The loss of a member saddens the entire firefighter family in Chicago," Langford said. "Our prayers are with the family. We will have a contingent at his services whenever they are."