HINSDALE, Ill. — A family is searching for answers after a 27-year-old Hinsdale firefighter who died by suicide, according to the village.
Nicole Hladik was the only female firefighter at the Hinsdale Fire Department, and the third in the town’s history.
“Nicki was a bright rising star in the fire service, she was beloved by all of us of course and very happy early on,” Brian Kulaga, Hladik’s uncle, said.
But Kulaga said something changed recently.
“Then she traded shifts and suddenly just a lot of negativity and then leading up to today which was obviously a complete surprise to all of us,” he said.
Hladik died by suicide Tuesday and her brother Joseph Hladik said it was a complete shock.
“Super active, super fit, a family person, a great friend, she’s my sister but my best friend,” he said.
Hladik’s family said it doesn’t make sense.
“Our goal is, we just want someone to look into this, it’s not an accusation. It’s just the facts are, how could someone who was so happy and loved what she was doing go from one spectrum to the other end? It just doesn’t make any sense,” Joseph Hladik said.
The Village of Hinsdale released the following statement:
The Village of Hinsdale is heartbroken over the death of Firefighter/Paramedic Candidate Nicole Hladik, who took her life today. This is a devastating loss for her family and friends, the Fire Department, and the entire Village.
We have been in contact with Nicole’s family; and, brought in grief counseling for our fire department. In the coming days, the Village will seek an external evaluation to better understand what happened to one of our own.
We are grateful for having Nicole as a part of our Village family. Her death is a loss for all of us, and we will keep everyone in our prayers. If you, or anyone you know, needs assistance, please call 800-273-TALK (8255).
DuPage County Coroner said autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday and no official ruling has been made on the death.