Saving Bubby: “We shaved a few seconds off the clock”

From Mike Kellems: “These are Bubby’s shoes that he had been wearing (the day of the accident). Somehow they ended up in my police car. The Wellinski in me knows there was a photo to be created and so here it is.”

By Mike Kellems

WNLP EDITOR’S NOTE: Family members continue to report that Edward “Bubby” Burek-Phillips, 3, is making progress in his recovery at Comer Children’s Hospital in Chicago. In an incident that has grabbed the hearts of the community, a tractor operated by Bubby’s grandfather accidentally ran over him on the Burek farm on 400 South Wednesday, June 21, 2017. The boy suffered numerous facial and head fractures as well as internal injuries. LaPorte County Sheriff’s Captain Mike Kellems was one of dozens of emergency workers who rushed to the Burek farm. Here are Mike’s thoughts on the day and the events that followed.

On Wednesday, June 21, I had just sat down in my office a few minutes after 1 p.m. when I heard the 911 dispatcher ask for any available units to assist at a medical call at

Mike Kellems

the Burek Farm on 400 South. We were told that a 3-year-old child had been run over by a farm tractor. Several of us jumped up and ran out of the county jail and to our police cars.

Anyone driving by would have seen what looked like a well-orchestrated fire drill. In very short order a line of emergency vehicles was heading south on Indiana Avenue and onto U.S. 35. While en route we were told that CPR had been initiated on the boy. The police officers called out roads to block to make sure that paramedics and emergency medical technicians had a clear path to the call.

I arrived behind the ambulance and saw the little boy being swiftly carried to it. Some called out that a medical helicopter was responding and I offered to take care of the landing zone. I called on the radio to the many responding deputies, both on and off duty, that we would use the intersection of 400 S and U.S. 35 as a landing zone. Before I could drive the half mile to that intersection, our dedicated deputies had already sprung into action; it was closed down to traffic.

A photo of Bubby from a family Facebook page.

We anxiously awaited word of when the MedFlight helicopter would land. Within a few minutes we were told that the helicopter would be responding to LaPorte Hospital instead. We scrapped plans for the landing zone and opted to close down traffic on U.S. 35 to LaPorte and then Indiana Avenue, Lincolnway and Madison. LaPorte Police officers radioed that they were aware of the call and would assist by blocking all major intersections in town.

In short order the ambulance left the farm and headed north. As we traveled toward the hospital with several police cars surrounding the ambulance, I was amazed at how well the road had been cleared; it was a straight shot without one obstruction. I later heard a comment that someone saw the looks on the faces of the police officers driving the cars as they rushed into town, and knew they meant business.

I don’t know how long the trip took, but it seemed like only seconds. As the ambulance backed up to the doors of the LaPorte Hospital emergency room, the MedFlight helicopter was approaching the hospital’s roof. A dozen police officers and hospital staff stood at the back of the ambulance and made sure that no one blocked the path of the stretcher.

Very quickly the child, whom we all now know as “Bubby,” was transferred to the medical helicopter and flown to Comer Children’s Hospital in Chicago. Sheriff’s Sergeant Steve Lestinsky, who realized the family was in shock and in no shape to drive, offered to drive members of Bubby’s family to the Chicago hospital. They climbed into a department SUV and headed for the Chicago Skyway. A call to the Illinois State Police was made and they readily agreed to meet at the skyway and escort the family the rest of the way to Comer.

Aaron Banic, a detective on the sheriff’s department who knows the family, kept us updated and we in turn shared that information on our Facebook page. We don’t often do patient updates, but everyone knew this was a special case; Bubby and his family need our support — and I mean ALL of our support. And support you did; the first four updates we posted garnered 871 comments, each and every one positive and uplifting, and from what I’m told, they came from all parts of the United States. Hundreds upon hundreds lifting up Bubby, his grandpa and family in their prayers.

I’ve seen a lot in my 31 years on the force. Rarely am I moved to emotion anymore; that’s a hazard of the job. But when I think back on Wednesday and the incredible response, I’m moved to tears. When the call came in, everyone’s heart immediately sank. Then, well, we buckled down and said “Let’s go get this boy’s back.” My friends in our award-winning EMS service tell me that seconds save lives. I have to believe that the way our emergency services came together, we shaved a few seconds off the clock and hopefully bought Bubby the time he so desperately needed. It was a group effort to be sure — police, paramedics, EMTs, firefighters, doctors, nurses, pilots, and hundreds if not thousands of people lifting up the Burek family in their prayers.

Not bad for a day’s work … not bad. 

36 Responses to “Saving Bubby: “We shaved a few seconds off the clock””

  1. SuzQuz

    Jun 26. 2017

    Even if a person didn’t know anything about Bubby, your article here, Mike, would bring them to tears. And not just for Bubby, but for his grandfather. I cannot imagine how he must feel. Continued prayers for them all.

    Reply to this comment
    • Rosanne Sosinski Hood

      Jun 26. 2017

      It did move me to tears & I know no one in this situation. My heart goes out to them all.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Ron Brauer

    Jun 26. 2017

    Well written account of an event that will stay in our minds, and even as we continue to hold Bubby in our prayers, we also give thanks for the coordinated efforts of our LP County Sheriffs and LP City Police to ‘pave the way’ for quick and safe travel for the ambulance crew. We are also thankful for the efforts of the EMTs, First Responders, and fire crews who arrived at the scene to treat and prepare Bubby for his path to treatment and recovery.
    And, thanks to you, Mike, for sharing this deeply personal account. I was in my office at St. John’s Lutheran Church and heard a squad car rush out. I tuned in my scanner to learn of the event. From that point forward, I knew everything was being done by our local Law Enforcement Agencies and our EMTs, etc. to bring this child to the aid of medical professionals. Our prayers continue for Bubby as well as for all our Law Enforcement officers and our Public servants!

    Reply to this comment
  3. The Chief

    Jun 26. 2017

    The system certainly came together!!!!

    AGAIN….. Wonderful Job!!!!!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Paul

    Jun 26. 2017

    God works in mysterious ways. Knowing he played the largest part of orchestrating this response by all involved and all of your talents and support made this miracle happen. Thanks to you all and please continue your prayers for the family.🙏

    Reply to this comment
  5. Lynda

    Jun 26. 2017

    No words can express the love we all feel for everyone involved. This is what makes a community family. My heart goes out to all of you. Thank you.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Kathy T

    Jun 26. 2017

    I’m so proud of our entire community for coming together for this little boy and his family. Prayers continue.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Connie Denecho

    Jun 26. 2017

    God Bless each and every one of you

    Reply to this comment
  8. AJ Serafin

    Jun 26. 2017

    Thanks to the sherrif’s office not only in LaPorte, but nation wide for serving and protecting us on a daily basis. You all do a fine job

    Reply to this comment
  9. Rhonda Moles

    Jun 26. 2017

    I am moved beyond words. I want to thank all Emergency Personnel . Makes me Proud to be from LaPorte. Keep Praying For Bubby. #TEAMBUBBY

    Reply to this comment
  10. Peg Slawson O'Donnell

    Jun 26. 2017

    I lived in LaPorte for 40 years
    Proud

    Reply to this comment
  11. Dianne Wolff

    Jun 26. 2017

    I have always heard about “karma” and when it is usually spoken about it is not because of the good in someone…I know the family and can only say I know why there are tons of people praying , giving donations and passing all the updates on about “Bubby”.. The Ed Burek Family are wonderful people..Yep..”KARMA”..

    Reply to this comment
  12. Sue Pagels

    Jun 26. 2017

    Prayers for this sweet little boy, his grandfather, his entire family and their supportive friends. Each day, I’m sure, is one more day closer to a miracle.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Jerimetheny

    Jun 26. 2017

    Unfortunately, this is what all police, first responders, and medical staff train for. Accidents happen, but i admire all of you that step up in emergencies, and save lives. Prayers to the Grandfather, Bubby and to the family.

    Reply to this comment
  14. Chandra Michaels

    Jun 26. 2017

    God bless every single one of you! You are all angels here on earth! Thank you for doing the jobs that you do because it takes a very special person to handle what you do and see every day! That little Eddie is definitely Laporte county’s baby! 😘😘😘

    Reply to this comment
  15. Kevin S

    Jun 26. 2017

    Very proud of our Ems police & Fire personnel. Comer is the best.

    Reply to this comment
  16. Suzanne Sharp

    Jun 26. 2017

    This story had me in tears. We heard the emergency vehicles when they sped in front of our home. We knew it had to be something devastating because there were so many vehicles, so many sirens, so fast. We always say a little prayer for the law enforcement officers and other emergency responders when they speed by. Rarely do we hear them going back into town, but it was the same on their return trip. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers were and are with the Burek family when we learned who it was and what had happened.

    Many, many thanks to everyone who assisted. I truly believe you all saved Bubby’s life that day. We’re so proud of all our police, fire and ambulance teams!! Fabulous job all the way around.

    Reply to this comment
  17. Barb

    Jun 26. 2017

    God is good all the time. And so are the Police, medics, doctors, nurses. without whom we would all be in trouble. I give you all praise and glory for saving this little boys life. Thank you for being there when it was needed and doing your jobs so well. My prayers go out to protect all of you and to the family of Bubby. May God Bless you all and keep you safe.

    Reply to this comment
  18. Terri

    Jun 26. 2017

    I am in tears. My heart goes out to the family and everyone involved. Great job to our police departments!! Continued others for Bubby❤❤

    Reply to this comment
  19. Mary Bencie

    Jun 26. 2017

    May Our Lord watch over Buddy and his family. Prayers to all…

    Reply to this comment
  20. Sharon Diangikis

    Jun 26. 2017

    What a amazing job done by all.I work in Laporte and have gone to Bureks several times and seen Bubby, a beautiful little boy.The police and emt did a wonderful job! You should all be proud of all of the departments!

    Reply to this comment
  21. Troy & Beth Layton

    Jun 26. 2017

    Sending our continued love, thoughts and prayers to Precious little Bubby and his family.

    Reply to this comment
  22. Rebecca Swing-Wallis

    Jun 26. 2017

    Thank You all for your hard work an dedication to saving this little boy. I have been privliaged to work with awesome people at La Porte Hospital an EMS, city, an county police. You guys are awesome. I pray for a full recovery for this little guy an his family. May God Bless them.

    Reply to this comment
  23. Jessy Burek

    Jun 26. 2017

    I don’t have any social media, so I haven’t really had the chance to say anything yet. I just want to say that I am absolutely blown away by the response on behalf of the EMTs, police departments, and all parties involved in saving my nephew’s life. This includes my parents and sister who were there while this was all happening. My family takes every opportunity to help our community, and everyone who has said a prayer, offered assistance to our family, or made a donation is so greatly appreciated. I am so amazed at how many lives Bubby has touched, and I can’t express my thanks enough. He is doing so much better, but he still has a very long recovery. Please keep praying for our baby. 💜

    Reply to this comment
  24. Fay

    Jun 26. 2017

    Thanks to all who played a part.. your lives changed that day.. from 911 who took the call and dispatched… to those who rose to the occasion. Thank you!

    Reply to this comment
  25. Shelley Robbins

    Jun 26. 2017

    An amazing effort on the part of everyone that responded to this emergency. Also, fantastic teamwork amongst multi state law enforcement officers. We are praying for the Burek Family and hoping your little guy has a complete recovery. Lots of challenges ahead, but you have everyone behind you, 100%. Stay strong and have faith.

    Reply to this comment
  26. Lp Resident

    Jun 26. 2017

    This is amazing! I am very proud of all the men and women that helped this little boy! Prayers to the family.

    Reply to this comment
  27. Bob Spevak

    Jun 26. 2017

    Great job. Thanks to all EMS, county, city personnel involved. Bless you all. Good write-up , Mike.

    Reply to this comment
  28. Julie Kessler

    Jun 26. 2017

    Mike, thanks so much for putting this story in words that capture the unfolding of events in such a personal way, bringing this story to so many who care about this little boy and his family. And thank you and all who serve our community by working so steadfastly and bravely for our safety and well-being.

    Reply to this comment
  29. Elisabeth

    Jun 27. 2017

    I don’t know the family, or y’all, but your recount of this story is so very touching. My prayers are with Bubby, his family, and all the emergency responders involved in his miracle <3 And to Grandpa Burek, a special prayer for you, that you will lean into God's grace and be comforted by those supporting you and lifting you up in prayer to our Heavenly Father; peace be with you. Blessings to you all!

    Reply to this comment
  30. Mary

    Jun 27. 2017

    I was in a car at the corner of Lincolnway and Indiana avenues last Wednesday afternoon when a LP County Sheriff’s car abruptly stopped, diagonally, across that intersection. Two neon-vested officers jumped out and immediately and expertly stopped traffic in all directions, as if they did that everyday. None of us in our vehicles knew what was going on, but the officers’ facial expressions and body language left no doubt that it was something of an extremely serious nature. The officers were communicating by radio and one let us know that we would need to stay stopped for about five minutes. I don’t think anyone even thought about complaining or trying to move. During our wait, I tried to imagine what could have happened to precipitate this much attention. After I watched no-less-than seven police vehicles and an ambulance rush past the halted traffic, speeding toward the hospital as well as observing a medical helicopter fly overhead, my best guess was that “one of their own,”(meaning a police officer,) must have endured a tragedy. Several hours later, I learned that was not the case when it was revealed that little Bubby, who I continue to pray for, was the victim of a heart aching accident. There is no doubt though, from what I witnessed, that those who responded to this unfortunate incident did indeed treat this as if it were “one of their own” and we should be grateful and honored for their service and dedication, not only for this life-saving event, but always. I still can’t get that imagine out of my mind of those two officers jumping out of their squad car to risk their lives to stop traffic. God bless them!

    Reply to this comment
  31. Rachael Petrie

    Jun 27. 2017

    The Burek’s are family friends and I used to babysit their three daughters. I was horrified to here of the accident and started praying for Bubby and haven’t stopped.

    Bubby is tough like his mom and I know he will pull through this but that was made possible by all of the first responders.

    My thoughts and prayers are with the Burek family and my thanks are to all of the first responders who looked at Bubby as their own.

    Reply to this comment
  32. Dorrie

    Jun 27. 2017

    Thank you to all of those who jumped into action to save Bubby, this precious little 3 yr old, and for helping out his family to get to the hospital to be with him. That was a horrible accident for the family, and you all responded like it was your own family! Excellent way to work together! Keeping the Burke family in our prayers, they are our community!

    Reply to this comment
  33. Tawnya Hine Risner

    Jun 27. 2017

    My prayers go out to this entire family. The power of prayer is so great, so everywhere. I pray at church, and in the garden. I pray cleaning house, etc. I talk to God every single day. I’m praying for Bubby and especially for his grandpa.

    Reply to this comment
  34. Jani Telleen

    Jun 27. 2017

    Thanks for a great “tearful” story. As a Grandma from a small Iowa town, the saying goes, “It takes a village!” Small towns are the best.

    Reply to this comment
  35. Viki

    Jun 29. 2017

    Sometimes our tattered town looks a little worse for wear. But within this county beat the hearts of so many loving people who will give their all in times of need. Just ask Bubby, Neilah, Jaidyn and Nathan, to name a few. La Porteans have been known to dig a boy out of a sand dune, hold candle light vigils with prayers, hold fundraisers to help give families financial support or create a clear unobstructed path to enable emergency vehicles to rush someone for medical help. People have never been shy about helping. Everyone, EMS, police, firemen, heavy equipment operators, ministers, every day citizens, medical staff and others willingly help without expecting anything in return. Thank you to all who care and help. God bless Bubby and others who have been in need of assistance, but especially, God bless those who offer their unwavering help. I’m proud of you.

    Reply to this comment

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