Paramedic reunites patient with lost dog after crash

Mary Esserman was determined to find Finn, a dog who had escaped after a patient's semi-truck was involved in a rollover crash

By EMS1 Staff

CHESTERTON, Ind. — A paramedic led an extensive search for a patient’s dog that escaped after a rollover crash.

NWI Times reported that Lucas Cardona was recently reunited with his dog, Finn, at Porter EMS Station 1 after 39-year veteran paramedic Mary Esserman and her colleagues searched for days.

Finn had gone missing after Cardona’s semi-truck was involved in a rollover crash. Esserman and her partner, EMT Vanessa Cooper-Burns, responded to the crash, and Esserman became determined to find the dog after treating Cardona.

“That’s me. I’m an animal lover,” Esserman said. “To see the look on [Cardona’s] face with all that had happened, I had to do it.”

Esserman and Porter Fire Chief Jay Craig searched for Finn using a drone, and although they found another missing dog, Finn was not located.

The paramedic was not finished looking for the missing dog. She returned to the crash site with a T-shirt and sweatshirt of Cardona’s and had Cardona on her cellphone saying something the dog would recognize.

On her hands and knees, Esserman recovered the dog when he showed up and began licking her phone.

Finn was finally reunited with Cardona after several days of being separated, and he said Esserman “has been a godsend, continuously looking for him.”

“I missed him like crazy,” Cardona said. “He’s my baby boy. He’s like my son.”

Porter EMS director Ann Brandt said she’s amazed by Esserman’s efforts, but not surprised.

“It exemplifies the department we have. We all get really involved in the community,” Brandt said. “Mary went above and beyond. I’m proud of this department, and I’m proud to have Mary.”


When Lucas Cardona stepped into the ambulance, Porter EMS paramedic Mary Esserman noticed some pet hairs on his jacket. “Dog or cat?” She asked. “Dog,” Cardona said. “He’s gone.” Cardona’s semi had just rolled over on the Indiana Toll Road near Chesterton. He was OK, but his beloved Finian, Jr. - aka Finn - a six-month old Dalmatian mix, ran from the accident scene. That’s all Mary needed to hear. She launched an immediate community-wide search for Finn, that culminated several days later in a late-night stakeout with hot dogs and a T-shirt that smelled like Cardona. With that, and the sound of his voice over a cell phone, Esserman was able to catch Finn and keep him safe at her home until Cardona could get back. Today, Cardona returned from Michigan to be reunited with the dog he says is like a son to him. That’s Porter EMS for ya. Taking care of our community’s humans AND furry friends! (Shout out to everyone who helped with the search! Indiana State Police, Porter County Search and Rescue Team, Porter County Sheriff Department, Porter County Animal Control, Porter Fire Department, and all others!)

Posted by Porter Regional Hospital on Saturday, April 28, 2018


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