Elgin man dies after serving in Iraq
A 21-year-old Elgin man died Tuesday in Texas after suffering from traumatic brain injury resulting from an Army training exercise accident last year, his family said Saturday.
Timothy John "T.J." Hansley died in a psychiatric hospital in El Paso, said his mother Trish Hansley. "We don't know what happened; they can't find the cause of death," she said.
Born in Elk Grove Village and a 2008 graduate of South Elgin High School, T.J. Hansley served in Iraq after he enlisted in the Army in January 2009, his mother said.
"He loved serving for the Army. He didn't mind going to Iraq," she said.
He was shot in the hand and returned stateside sometime in first half of 2010, Trish Hansley said.
That spring he married his wife, Kristine, and also visited his little brother Trenton's class at Otter Creek Elementary School in Elgin, his family said.
"He was a very loving brother to his little brother," his mother said, adding she thought her son suffered from PTSD when he came back from Iraq.
Trevor Hansley, 19, said his older brother was outgoing and talkative, and liked to play football for fun.
"He was always happy," he said.
The training accident happened sometime late last year when T.J. Hansley was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, his mother said.
"He was trying to save another soldier and himself," she said. "A grenade was thrown during this training exercise, so he took himself and another soldier out of the way, but he still got injured."
T.J. Hansley spent two weeks in a Texas hospital, and then returned to light duty, she said.
The family first noticed something was wrong when he came home for a visit right after Christmas, his mother said.
"He was very impatient," she said. "He was always pacing, he had a short fuse."
He later began to exhibit signs of schizophrenia, and eventually was admitted into the psychiatric hospital, Trish Hansley said.
While in the hospital, where he stayed several weeks, T.J. Hansley talked to his family on the phone every day, Trevor Hansley said.
"Sometimes he'd be fine, other times you could tell he was really drugged up. He would mumble and lose his train of thought," Trevor Hansley said. "But he was still always happy. We had no clue that anything was even wrong."
Trevor Hansley said that his brother's wife was planning to move to Texas July 2.
Visitation will be on Tuesday from 3 to 9 p.m. at the Countryside Funeral Home and Crematory, 95 S. Gilbert St. (at Middle Street), South Elgin. Funeral services will be on Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the funeral home. Interment will be in Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery. For more information, call (847) 289-8054 or visit countrysidefuneralhomes.com.