It sends shivers down my spine.
As I watched Ambulance 42 transport the bullet-riddled body Tuesday of 18th District Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, I became aware of a tragic — but stunning — triple coincidence.
It was also Ambulance 42 that had transported First Deputy Chicago Police Supt. James Riordan to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in 1981, shortly after he was shot off duty in an altercation at Marina City with a man carrying a gun.
Riordan would then become a grisly statistic: the highest-ranking Chicago Police officer killed in action.
It was also Ambulance 42 that had transported Mayor Richard J. Daley from his doctor’s office at 900 N. Michigan Ave. to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead in 1976.
“Ambulance 42 pulls out of 55 West Illinois Street, but there are other ambulance locations in the area,” said retired firefighter Bill Kugelman. “But there is only one Ambulance 42.”
Having now covered all three of these stories, which span the decades from 1976 to 2018, is a reason I was so startled to see Commander Bauer’s hearse.
And I’m not the only one who was.
“Every time I see Ambulance 42 in the Loop I get the same weird feeling,” said former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley, who was also President Barack Obama’s chief of staff.
“Although Ambulance 42 back then was a hearse-style station wagon — it still bore number 42 — it had the same ironic effect Tuesday when I saw number 42 in pictures on the ambulance taking Commander Paul Bauer to the hospital,” Daley said.
“I’m in the Loop a lot, so whenever I hear an ambulance siren I wonder whether it’s going to be Ambulance 42. Strange . . . but I guess you never really get over something like that. ”
Patrick Riordan, the son of slain First Deputy Police Supt. James Riordan and who retired as a Chicago Police sergeant in 2013, tells Sneed, “My heart sinks every time I see Ambulance 42. And I had that same sinking feeling when I saw it again on the news taking Paul’s body to the hospital.
“I knew Paul Bauer. It was crushing to hear what happened to him. So many similarities in his and my dad’s death. . . . They were downtown when they were killed. Same ambulance. Same hospital. I was on a fishing trip in Canada when it happened. So I didn’t know until the next day he was dead.
“My mother and my older brother, Jim, were refused entry to the room where the doctors were working on my father — until Mayor Jane Byrne arrived,” he said. “She grabbed my mother’s hand and took her in the room. They were then able to say goodbye to my father. Because of her they got to see him.”
A heartbreaker . . .
A police wife’s nightmare: Erin (nee Malloy) Bauer, widow of 18th Chicago Police District Commander Paul Bauer, will be spending the night of her 16th wedding anniversary Friday standing alongside his casket at his wake at the Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church at 653 W. 37th St. in Bridgeport.
Bauer remembered . . .
Police Chaplain Dan Brandt is a funny guy.
The priest has been known to use quips and a closet full of funny tips to take the metal out of the pain of a policeman’s life — and what it can do to their families.
Brandt last saw Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer at police mass last Sunday, which Bauer attended with his wife, Erin, and 13-year-old daughter, Grace, twice a month at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls.
“Who was to know 48 hours after reading from the book of Leviticus, the book of law, he would be viciously murdered!
“Paul was a prince, a family man who went to mass every morning,” he said. “Last Sunday he and his family sat in the same front-row pew seats they always do.
“Again, who was to know he’d become Number 581 on the Chicago Police Memorial wall, a man running toward bullets.
“His daughter had a sore throat, so she couldn’t use that angelic voice to do the Scripture readings. So Paul read instead, while his old friend, retired fireman Bill Kugelman, yelled from the back row, ‘We want Grace!’
“You are stuck with me,” Bauer quipped.
“My God,” said Brandt.