Richard J. "R.J." Vanecko, mugshot from Cook County Sheriff

Richard J. "R.J." Vanecko, mugshot from Cook County Sheriff

Victim in 1992 bat attack runs tea company

Published Jan. 21, 2013


Staff Reporters

Andrew Buckman was a teenager when he was hit in the head with a baseball bat outside then-Mayor Richard M. Daley’s summer home at an underage beer bash in Grand Beach, Mich., nearly 21 years ago, suffering severe brain injuries.

Today, Buckman and his wife own a tea-importing company – Great Horse Teas, whose website describes it as “a small tea company dedicated to sourcing our teas directly from growers/producers in China, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, West Africa and various other locations.”

Buckman, 36, and his wife, Katrina, declined to talk about the 1992 incident. His mother said in a brief interview in 2011 that her son made a complete recovery.

Buckman’s parents filed a federal lawsuit against Mark Lawler, a high school classmate of Daley’s son, Patrick Daley, seeking damages from Lawler for hitting Buckman in the head with the bat. They also sued Patrick Daley, who threw the party; the mayor’s nephew, Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko, who wielded a shotgun during the brawl; and two other teens who brought beer to the Daley house. The suit was settled out of court.

Charged in the assault, Lawler said he hit Buckman in self-defense. A jury convicted Lawler, then 16, of assault and infliction of serious injury. He got probation and paid $800 in fines.

Lawler – who grew up in Beverly and met Patrick Daley at Mount Carmel High School – was found dead in a hotel room in Miami Beach on Christmas Eve of 2009. He was 34 and died of a heart problem, the medical examiner found.

Patrick Daley pleaded guilty to a juvenile charge of furnishing alcohol to minors. Vanecko, then 17, pleaded guilty to aiming a firearm without malice. Both got probation.