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Victim in 1992 bat attack at Daley summer home now runs tea company

Patrick Daley 2011 file photo. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

Patrick Daley, in a 2011 file photo. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 22, 2013 6:12AM

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.

Tim Novak, Chris Fusco
and Carol Marin

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