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2-year-old killed as dad accidentally backs over him

Cameron Gulbransen, in family photo, died back-up accident

Cameron Gulbransen, in family photo, died back-up accident in October 2002. (Undated) Credit: Handout

Two-year-old Cameron Gulbransen was fast asleep Saturday night in Woodbury when his father, a beloved pediatrician, peeked in on him after getting home from a dinner with friends.

Dr. Greg Gulbransen, 39, then went downstairs to move the family's car out of a neighbor's driveway, Nassau County police said. But unknown to him and his wife, Cameron woke up and followed him out the front door. He was dressed in pajamas and dragging a blue blanket.

He was looking for his daddy.

The boy walked to the end of the driveway on Aspen Drive West about 9:40 p.m., just as Gulbransen was backing in his BMW X5 sport utility vehicle. The man neighbors describe as a figure straight out of Norman Rockwell, then accidentally ran over and killed his son, said Det. Leonard Sternesky, of the Second Squad.

"I felt a bump. I didn't know what it was," Gulbransen told police, according to Sternesky. He thought he had hit the curb.

"As soon as he got out of the car and looked, he realized what had happened," Sternesky said. "He picked the kid up, put the kid on the lawn and started CPR. The kid was bleeding profusely."

A babysitter, who had been watching the couple's two boys, called 911 and officers from the Second Precinct rushed to the house. They took Cameron to North Shore University Hospital in Syosset, where he was pronounced dead at 10:40 p.m. Police said the boy suffered severe head trauma.

The death "appears to be an accidental tragedy," Nassau police said. No charges have been filed against Gulbransen. His BMW was impounded for safety and brake tests. An investigation was continuing.

Cameron's death left a heavy pall yesterday over the family's neighborhood in The Woodlands condominium complex. Neighbors spoke of a dedicated doctor who makes house calls at all hours of the night. "You think Norman Rockwell," said one woman, who declined to give her name. "He seemed to be a wonderful father.

I feel horribly for them."Sternesky said Gulbransen and his wife, Leslie, went to dinner with another couple about 7:30 p.m. The friends had parked their car on the Gulbransens' side of a double driveway they share with neighbors. Gulbransen parked his BMW on the neighbor's side.

The couples returned two hours later and the friends left. After Gulbransen went upstairs to check on Cameron and the couple's 5-year-old son, he went out to move his car to his side of the 25-foot-long driveway. His wife was paying the babysitter.

Gulbransen backed the SUV out and made a semicircle in the street so he could back the vehicle in. By then Cameron was at the end of the driveway. He was standing there when Gulbransen accidently ran over him, Sternesky said.

"He had no idea that the child was even outside," Sternesky said.

"The kid must have gone out the door after him and he just didn't realize it."

He added, "I don't know that his wife ever realized that the child was even up.".

At North Shore University Hospital, nurses who know and admire Gulbransen broke down in tears when his son was brought in.

"They said if you would know this doctor you would know that he's one of the nicest guys around," Sternesky said.

Gulbransen, whose office is in Oyster Bay, is allowed to admit patients at the hospital since it is close to his home and he often personally tends to them even when they are admitted late at night.

Police officers who were at the scene of the boy's death also were crying, Sternesky said. They were given a peer counseling session later in the night.

As for Gulbransen, he was beside himself with grief. "He was in total, total, total shock, disbelief," Sternesky said.

The family's home was quiet yesterday. Neighbors said Gulbransen and his family were in seclusion at a relative's home.

Heartbroken neighbors spoke of a man who spent hours playing with his sons and other children on the quiet block.

"Greg's a real special guy," one man said. "The outpouring from hispatients is going to be tremendous."

The man said he could barely comprehend what Gulbransen and his wife must be going through. "It's every parent's worst nightmare," he said.

"For any of us it would be a cruel twist, but for him ... ," the man said, and then fell silent.

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