Katelynn Buescher plans to dedicate her life to helping others.
That’s why Buescher, the 2018 Naperville Sun Girls Soccer Player of the Year who played four years of soccer at Illinois, is training to become a speech pathologist.
But Buescher, a Naperville North graduate, has already made a difference. She was feted as a hero for saving a man’s life last December in Urbana.
“I was driving and I saw police lights ahead and as I was passing, I saw a police officer starting CPR on a man,” Buescher said. “So I pulled over.
“The police officer was alone and he said, ‘There is one more man down here, can you help?'”
Several men had been working on the roof of a building when their ladder tipped backward and touched an electrical wire, electrocuting two and causing them to fall three stories to the ground.
When Buescher, who is CPR certified, checked on the second man, he wasn’t breathing.
“I took his pulse, couldn’t find any, so I started CPR, and then this nurse ran up behind me,” Buescher said. “She couldn’t find a pulse, so we were rotating CPR.
“I heard an ambulance coming after five minutes and I was like, ‘Oh, thank goodness, I’m exhausted.'”
The paramedics assisted the police officer with the first man, so Buescher and the nurse had to continue giving chest compressions to the second victim.
Five minutes later, another ambulance arrived.
“Our CPR was so good that it was pumping enough blood to his brain that he was somewhat conscious,” Buescher said. “While we were working, the EMS put heart rate monitors on him and it was horrible to see.
“We stopped so they could start working and you could see it flatlining. They had this new automated CPR machine and defibrillator and they shocked him.”
Buescher was scared but remained calm. Another worker, a teenager, was stranded on the roof and yelling in Spanish.
“I minored in Spanish so I helped them communicate with the police officer to figure out what happened,” Buescher said. “I’m pretty proud of how well I did with the Spanish because that’s not the type of thing you learn in class.”
Naperville North coach Steve Goletz is also proud of Buescher, a midfielder who led the Huskies to third place in the state as a senior in 2018.
“Katelynn was always such a natural leader, somebody who always did the right thing, both on the field and off the field,” Goletz said. “That’s a huge credit to her parents and all the people who were lucky enough to be around her when she was younger.
“Obviously, something like that takes a tone of courage. To her, there was no other option. It wasn’t one of those things she did for attention.”
The Urbana Fire Department honored Buescher with a certificate of appreciation at a news conference. She has not met the man she saved.
“I felt bad because I got a lot of publicity from it,” Buescher said. “There was a TV station that wanted me to meet him, but I didn’t feel like that would be respectful.
“But the fire chief said he made a full recovery.”
Buescher played defender for Illinois, recording four assists in 46 appearances despite missing parts of two seasons because of surgeries to repair torn labarums in both hips.
Buescher has opted to play a fifth season as a graduate student at Illinois State, where she will be reunited with former Naperville North teammate Shaina Dudas.
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“I wanted to go to a school that had a speech pathology program that was really focused on the client and not necessarily the research,” Buescher said. “There’s not a lot of programs out there that fit what I wanted to do and play soccer as well, and Illinois State has an impressive clinic.”
Buescher eventually wants to work with stroke victims and premature babies.
She feels she was just in the right place at the right time last December, but those who know her weren’t shocked by her actions.
Loyola star Abby Swanson, an aspiring nurse, played with Buescher on the Naperville Soccer Association club team that won a national title in 2018.
“I’m not surprised at all that she saw someone who needed help and she jumped in right away,” Swanson said. “She’s just wired that way.
“She’d be one I would want if I were ever not feeling well or something was going wrong with me.”
Matt Le Cren is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.