The sister of a John Carroll student athlete who died Wednesday said her younger brother was “a sweetheart” — smart, funny, kind and with dreams of playing professional football for this favorite team, the Seattle Seahawks.
Bailey Bernard Bullock, 16, had a cardiac emergency and collapsed outside the school while he was waiting for his sister, Breanna Bullock, 21, to pick him up after track practice. He was unresponsive and being treated by bystanders and school staff when emergency personnel from the Bel Air police and fire departments arrived, according to a news release from the Town of Bel Air.
Emergency medical personnel took over treatment and transported him to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, were he was pronounced dead.
Bailey had called his mother, Patrice, shortly after track practice had ended, around 4:15 Wednesday afternoon, to tell her he was ready to be picked up. Bailey has been learning from home virtually since last March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but attended sports practices after school.
Breanna, who said they live about 10 minutes from John Carroll, said she had just pulled up to the school around 4:30 when she saw police arrive. Though Bailey hadn’t answered her text message that she had arrived, which was unusual, Breanna said even when the police pulled up, “it didn’t click that it was Bailey.”
The police had blocked her car, so she got out and asked if something was wrong. That’s when she saw her brother lying on the ground.
“From what I’m hearing, he was fine one moment and the next he just fell over,” Breanna said.
The John Carroll sophomore had a heart condition known as Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. According to the Mayo Clinic, WPW is a syndrome in which an extra electrical pathway in the heart causes a rapid heartbeat. Symptoms can also include dizziness and lightheadedness.
Bailey was diagnosed around the time he was in fifth grade, his sister said, but it appeared to be minor and he had been cleared by a cardiologist and passed his physicals to participate in athletics.
“Since then he’s been doing sports, it hadn’t resurfaced,” Breanna said.
While this was his first year running track, she said Bailey had been playing basketball and football for years. “He was used to the high intensity,” she said.
She wasn’t aware of any other students there when her brother collapsed. Breanna said there was a woman who called 911 and was talking to her at the scene, but wasn’t sure who she was.
The family had heard that Bailey said he wasn’t feeling well, but decided to keep running and practicing.
“Bailey’s the kind of kid who will tell you if something is wrong,” Breanna said. “That’s kind of how he goes. He’ll say he doesn’t feel well, but he’ll power through. He probably thought at the time it was just minor, maybe he was thirsty, maybe he didn’t eat.
“If he knew he would get hurt, I know he would’ve stopped. But he probably just thought it was something he could power through.”
The John Carroll School community has been “really good” and supportive of her family, Breanna said. She and her twin brother, Brandon, and older brother, Benjamin, 23, all attended and graduated from Patterson Mill High School, but Bailey, she said, “wanted to be different,” and decided to attend John Carroll.
The school has gathered a crisis team for students and staff who need support, Principal Tom Durkin wrote in a message to the school’s community Thursday.
“Our hearts are with the Bullock family, including Bailey’s mother, Patrice, and his siblings,” Durkin said.
John Carroll football coach Ken Brinkman tweeted Wednesday night that “I’m still in disbelief! Today we lost a fine young man way too soon! My heart breaks for his family. He touched so many in his time with us.”
Representatives from John Carroll visited with the family on Thursday afternoon, bringing cards of support and Bailey’s football jersey to them, and to tell them what students were saying and how much Bailey meant to them, Breanna said.
“He normally doesn’t tell us a lot about his interactions at school, especially since COVID,” when he started learning remotely, Breanna said. “To hear from people call him kind, to say he was so respectful and sweet, it meant a lot, to know in the moments they shared with Bailey he was so impactful.
“It’s nice to know how loved he was when he wasn’t home.”
The baby of the family, Bailey was “a bit of a home body, he loved being around his siblings,” she said.
“When we went to college, we could tell it was a little hard for him, because he was used to having us all around,” Breanna said. “He loved it when we came home and visited — it really lit him up.”
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Relatives and friends are invited to visit at Schimunek Funeral Home, 610 W. MacPhail Road in Bel Air, from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday. A funeral is scheduled for Friday at Bethel United Church, 2301 Mayfield Ave. in Baltimore. The viewing is at 10 a.m. with services at 11 a.m. A repass will follow at 2 p.m.