EAST GARFIELD PARK — Christopher Allen was heading home from a weekend wedding with a childhood friend when he died on a plane en route to O'Hare International Airport Monday evening, his mother said.
Allen, 41, of the 3500 block of West Jackson Boulevard, was flying on Spirit Airlines Flight 356 from Las Vegas to Chicago when he experienced "a medical issue," said Misty Pinson, a spokeswoman for the airline.
"Our crew provided medical assistance as they are trained to do during in-flight emergencies," Pinson said in an email, "and they were assisted by a professional paramedic who was traveling on the flight."
The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office pronounced Allen dead at 11:39 p.m.
His mother, Gwendolyn Allen, called her son's sudden death a complete shock Tuesday. Her son had no history of heart disease or other ailments, she said.
She described Christopher Allen, an insurance claims agent and lifelong Chicagoan, as “artistic,” “talkative” and “polite.”
Allen and his wife, Jacqueline, had two sons — Jordan, 15, and Justin, 12. In his spare time he volunteered as a Chicago Park District youth baseball coach.
“He was very caring when it came to kids,” Gwendolyn Allen said. “He would help put boys on the right track.”
Her son often hosted post-game barbecues for his teams, she said.
“He would grill for them at his house,” she said. “They had a lot of trophies, and he’s been featured in the neighborhood newspaper.”
Before he died, Allen was writing a sitcom about an inner-city family, Gwendolyn Allen said.
“He always loved to write,” she said. When he was a kid, Allen “liked drawing superheroes — black superheroes — and collecting old comic books… And he loved "Star Wars." He even had "Star Wars" bedding. He may still have it.
“He was just artistic,” she said. “Period.”
An autopsy for Allen is slated for Tuesday.