Paramedic fought to save Brendan Burke

Brendan Burke. (Supplied Photo)

Brendan Burke. (Supplied Photo)

IAN ROBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:28 PM ET

Paramedics worked feverishly to save Brendan Burke as he lay beside a dead pal after sliding sideways into an oncoming truck on a wind-whipped snowy highway, an Indiana coroner told the Toronto Sun.

“Brendan’s condition didn’t seem as bad,” compared to Mark Reedy, Dr. Kevin Fauche, Wayne County’s coroner, said Saturday.

But the youngest son of Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke sustained fatal injuries to the base of his skull and neck when his Jeep Grand Cherokee was broadsided mid-afternoon Friday, Fauche said.

An ambulance was dispatched to two-lane, old-style U.S. Hwy. 35 near the small town of Economy, Indiana, 100 km northwest of Cincinnati, Ohio, during a storm that left county highways with 151 crashed vehicles amid damp snowdrifts up to a metre high.

“The paramedics worked on Brendan for quite awhile,” Fauche said. “I don’t think they ever had any signs of life.”

The coroner said Reedy, 18, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., died instantly. Burke, who was driving, was pronounced dead later.

The 24-year-old truck driver was unhurt.

Fauche said no autopsies were done but blood samples were sent for standard tests.

The visitation for Brendan will be held Monday from 2 to 8 p.m., at Dockray and Thomas Funeral Home in Canton, Mass., with a burial Tuesday, 10:30 a.m., at St. John the Evangelist Church in Canton.

The Burke family has asked in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Brendan’s name to the Xavierian Leadership Institute, care of Xavierian Brothers High School, 800 Clapboardtree St. in Westwood, Mass., 02090.

A senior at University of Miami of Ohio, Burke was heading to his Oxford, Ohio campus with his friend before a game the Miami Redhawks won 2-0 against Lake Superior State.

The team’s video assistant and student manager had visited Michigan State University in East Lansing to scout its law school, his sister Molly Burke, 18, said.

Her voice catching, she said he took government studies in Europe and was an intern in Washington last summer for Congressman William Delahunt, of Massachusetts.

Brendan was weighing politics and hockey careers, Molly said. Passionate about the game, he stopped playing regularly in Grade 11, but “always played pickup.”

He had a positive outlook, trusted in the best of people and made friends easily, she said. “Handsome and very smart, he was very enthusiastic about learning.”

Brendan loved visiting foreign countries and was devoted to his family, Molly said.

He attended Leafs games with their dad and recently visited here with his younger sisters, Gracie, 4, and Mairin, 5.

Proud of him publicly disclosing being gay last November, Molly said Brendan wanted to help lift hockey’s homophobia and set an example for other young people who might be struggling to tell their families.

“He had the biggest heart,” she whispered.

The Redhawks wore “BGB” stickers on their helmets for Saturday night’s return match with Lake Superior State and plan to have patches made in Brendan’s honour for their sweaters.

Molly said his coach, Rico Blasi, promised to give her Brendan’s varsity initials and the team plans to attend his funeral Tuesday, in Canton, Mass., where he lived.

“The team all took such care of him,” she said. “They’ve been awesome for him.”

About two hours after his dad’s Leafs met the Ottawa Senators in Toronto, Patrick Burke said the family “picked up Brendan and Brian” at an airport.

With files from Lance Hornby


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