Patriot Guard assists in rescuing family from burning wreckage en-route to escorting the remains of Spc. Robert Tauteris to North Judson
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — Spc Robert “Bobby” Tauteris received a hero’s welcome at Porter County Airport Saturday morning. Tauteris was killed, along with three other soldiers Friday, Jan. 6 in Kandahar Afghanistan when the vehicle he was in hit a roadside bomb. The group, which was on a dangerous mission to clear the area of explosive devices, was part of an Indiana National Guard unit out of Valparaiso.
Dozens of Patriot Guard members arrived at Porter Airport to escort Tauteris to North Judson. However, at about 10 a.m., the group chanced upon a freak accident when a pickup truck heading west on U.S. 30, east of C.R. 325 E. in Washington Township, ran into the backend of a Jeep Cherokee traveling in the westbound lanes of U.S. 30. The impact of the crash caused the Jeep, driven by Ana Pina, 35, of South Bend to burst into flames and veer partially into the eastbound lanes in front of the motorcade.
Without hesitation, Patriot Guard members and local and state law enforcement rushed to where the wreckage was ablaze and quickly pulled Pina and her family from the burning wreckage.
Traveling with the South Bend woman were her 6-year-old twin daughters and her mother. Pina was burned severely in the accident. And she and one of her daughters, who had broken an arm and leg, were transported to Porter Memorial Hospital in Valparaiso. The other twin, along with her grandmother, was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in Hobart.
Cpl Dan Becker of the Indiana State Police, who also serves as a member of the Patriot Guard, was taken to the hospital for burns he sustained in the rescue attempt. Becker also suffered from smoke inhalation. Other members of the Guard were also treated and released for minor burns and smoke inhalation. Becker, however, was kept overnight at the hospital for observation.
John Buibish, 76, of Grovertown, was the driver of the pickup. He received a bloody nose when the airbag released.
Pina was later flown to Loyola University Hospital in Chicago with her daughter who is expected to make a full recovery.
Pina is currently under heavy sedation and not even family is allowed in to see her.