CLOSE CALL

Charlottesville Survivor Spends 40th Birthday in Hospital

Bill Burke drove five hours to protest white supremacists and was nearly killed by one. The ex-EMT has “seen some grisly things, but that really shook him up."

Bill Burke is spending his 40th birthday in a Charlottesville, Virginia hospital after he was seriously hurt in an apparent attack on protesters on Sunday, his wife told The Daily Beast.

Burke was one of the 19 people injured when James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly plowed his car into protesters, killing one. Burke’s wife, Annie Jeffers Burke, said he "significant" head injuries that were treated with staples and stitches. He remains hospitalized.

Annie and Bill live in Hockingport, Ohio. Annie was five hours away from Charlottesville when she got a call from her husband’s phone.

"I thought he accidentally dialed me. I wasn't following the news [because] I was working,” Annie, a nurse, said.

"So I texted him and asked if he meant to call, and why was a woman cursing. I get a message back that said 'I am the woman, I have his phone.' So apparently he gave this stranger his phone and asked her to call me."

Annie said the woman, who did not want to be interviewed, kept her updated on her husband's condition.

"The medics wouldn't let her near him, so she couldn't hand him the phone, but someone told her which hospital he was going to.That nice lady went to [her] car and drove to the ER and took him his glasses and cell phone and texted me updates [from] the hospital."

As of Saturday night, Annie said she had spoken to her husband once since the attack.

"I only had one brief actual conversation with him. He was upset about the woman getting CPR next to him. I wish I knew if she was one of the fatalities. My husband is a former EMT so he has seen some grisly things, but that really shook him up."

Annie said Bill had been taken to University of Virginia Medical Center, and is being kept at an acute care trauma unit.

She said it was the first time her husband had decided to protest white nationalism.

"We have family and friends of different [races] and religions and believe they should be treated fairly and with [justice]," Burke said. "He has been to some environmental rallies but this [was his] first social justice one.”