Mark and Burke O’Brien

You know I’ve often felt that I might die sometime on one of my frequent trips back to Canada to investigate some unturned thread in my sister’s murder. Some local newspaper editorial would get it wrong, saying I passed doing what I loved best…

So what to make of Mark and Burke O’Brien? The son – Burke – is murdered in lower Manhattan. His father – Mark – killed in a freak car accident while on a retreat to get over his grief for Burke…


Thanks to Eric Muller for showing me this very sad story:




August 15, 2004 — A heartbroken father who immersed himself in a remote wilderness program to deal with his son’s tragic slaying on a Lower East Side street has been killed in an auto accident.

Mark O’Brien, 55, of Glenview, Ill., died in an accident near the U.S.-Canadian border while driving back from a wilderness retreat Wednesday.

He had just begun showing signs of healing since his son, Burke O’Brien, 25, was shot in the heart on Jan. 12, 2003, after being mugged by a pair of still-unidentified men.

The slaying was featured last month on the police reality TV show, “NYPD 24/7.”

“It’s horrible,” Mark’s daughter, Mariah O’Brien, told The Post. “I mean, to have to go through all of this again.

“He was so excited to get back. Just because he wanted to get home with his kids, he missed us so much. He sounded better than he sounded since my brother died; he sounded like he had life back in his voice.”

Mariah, 27, said her father was the “strongest man she knew.” She had talked to him three times the day before he started his days-long drive home from the Temagami wilderness in Ontario.

The accident happened in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, just over the border, about eight hours from O’Brien’s home in the suburbs of Chicago.

O’Brien was driving his tan 1997 Lincoln Town Car just after noon when he veered into oncoming traffic.

He then collided with a flatbed truck hauling logs, according to Sgt. Joseph Trudeau, of the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service.

The Town Car then hit a Dodge Caravan minivan, and O’Brien was thrown from his car. A fourth vehicle spotted O’Brien in the road and tried to swerve, but could not avoid striking him.

It was unclear what caused O’Brien to veer into oncoming traffic, and investigators are still looking into the accident.

He was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.

“My dad’s my best friend; he told me that the day the he left,” Mariah said.

She said her father had been up in the Canadian woods leading the same type of wilderness retreats his son had piloted before he was killed. The excursions were designed for people to get back to nature and to get to know themselves.

She said he himself had gone up to try to attain some peace regarding Burke’s murder, by doing the outdoors activities the father and son pair used to loved to do together.

“The reason why he was up there was to address some issues surrounding his relationship with my brother,” said Mariah.

“To try and find closure to some things, because that was such a huge part of my brother’s life. Being up there, I’m sure he felt much closer to my brother and could get at some things he couldn’t get at in the midst of daily life in Chicago.”

A securities trader by day, Mark O’Brien was a renewed man after the two-week retreat, Mariah said.

O’Brien leaves behind his wife, Barbara, his three daughters — Mariah, Raurie, 24, and Carleigh, 19 — and a son, Tommy, 22.


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