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Ald. Carrie Austin Slumps Over At City Council, Stopping Meeting

Mayor Lori Lightfoot told alderpeople there was a medical emergency and they needed the room cleared.

The scene in council chambers at City Hall Wednesday.
Justin Laurence/ Block Club Chicago

CHICAGO — Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) collapsed during a City Council meeting Wednesday, prompting officials to clear council chambers because of a “medical emergency.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot told alderpeople there was a medical emergency and they needed the room cleared.

Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st), a former firefighter, tended to Austin and checked her vital signs while paramedics were called to the chamber, Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) told reporters. Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) said Austin was conscious when she was escorted out and taken to a hospital for evaluation.

Austin’s council colleagues prayed for her in the chambers, and Lightfoot resumed the meeting at 1:20 p.m.. praising the council for quickly rallying around their colleague.

“What you saw today was an outpouring of our humanity. Every single alderman was here and concerned. Ald. Austin has been through a lot. I wish her Godspeed,” Lightfoot said, according to the Sun-Times.

Aides later told the Sun-Times that doctors tending to Austin at Northwestern Hospital believe she may have collapsed because of blood sugar levels or dehydration.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) speaks at a City Council meeting where the map of Chicago’s wards as proposed by City Council’s Rules Committee was presented on Dec. 1, 2021.

The Far South Side alderperson has had health scares in recent years.

She nearly died in 2015 from a torn aorta, which put her in a coma for two weeks. She was hospitalized for a month and required stents. She detailed her close call in an emotional speech in City Council chambers after she recovered.

“Some days were bad. Some days were real hard. But he allowed me to carry out the duties `cause that’s what I prayed for: `Lord, just give me the strength so that I can do my duty—even if it’s for the last time.’ And he allowed me to do my duty,” Austin said.

Austin tested positive for coronavirus in July 2020. Sources told the Sun-Times she was diagnosed after experiencing bleeding, which some suspected might have been a complication from her earlier surgery to repair the aorta.

Austin is the second-longest serving member of the City Council, having represented her Far South Side ward since 1994. After the City Council Rules Committee proposed a new ward map this month that would draw Austin out of her ward, she said she would rather retire than seek re-election.

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