Better Than I Could Have Written

This is letter to the editor we published on Monday, May 28, 2007.
Dear Mr. Unknown Soldier, Mr. Unfamiliar, Mr. Unidentified, Mr. Unfortunate.
Thanks isn’t good enough, not for you. You flew by all the limitations, looking back at hard times like they were effortless. I hope this comes close to thanks.
I am grateful for your protection. Like a shield, you lost your life to save mine and the lives of all Americans. Whether a sword pierced your side or a bullet found your throat doesn’t matter, for you gave your life for someone else’s.
I applaud you for your services. You deserve more than medals and tenderly shed tears. You deserve an iron wall to hide you from your fears. Yet, at a young age you boldly ventured out from behind such protections, expanding your vision all around the world. From that day on, you are, you were, the bravest person I’ve ever met, never met.
I try to see myself overcoming the human boundaries that you have gracefully risen above. Though war is no thrill; you have always been there to prevent its evil hand before its grueling scenes reached our soft American eyes.
I now know, because of you, that it doesn’t take super powers to be a hero. It takes more than that.
I know that the pile of remains your golden body ended up in, in The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, is not good enough for you.
I pray that your courageous being has flown elsewhere, finding the paradise it so rightly deserves.
With tremendous thanks and praise,

KATIE ENOS, 11
Crisafulli Elementary School, Westford
P.S. I thank all the soldiers who have died for the good of America, from the revolutionary militias to the fallen soldiers in Iraq.
I’m putting this up because Katie is the 14-year-old girl who was struck by a car on Carlisle Road in Westford on Tuesday.
I spoke to Katie’s father, Edward Enos, tonight, and he very, very tearfully told me that Katie is now brain dead.
She is being kept alive because even at age 14, she had already told her parents that, if anything ever happened to her, she hoped her organs could be used to help others.
Katie also had a Bronze Star from the US Army already, because when her letter above was published in The Sun, Lowell veteran Bill Pappaconstantinou went to her school, spoke emotionally to students about his experiences in the Korean War, and then gave Katie a dark-blue box containing the Bronze Star he had earned.
He did it to thank her for the letter.
Here is a picture of Katie and Pappaconstantinou as they met at the school that day.

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Pappaconstantinou was joined at the school by Lowell veteran Vinny Freeman, who met Katie. The story we wrote about that day ends with this
Both Pappaconstantinou and Freeman were moved that someone Katie’s age would pay tribute to veterans.
“This is our next generation — this young lady,” Freeman said of Katie.

This story sucks, and talking to Mr. Enos tonight was one of the very few times in this job when a story really gets to me.
Rest in peace kid.

Attention Elsewhere

I apologize for slacking off on blogging the last couple days, but I’ve been working overtime pulling together everything I could on a story about a city 911 dispatcher being fired.
Also here is a timeline of some of the things that happened the day a 73-year-old woman died while EMT’s stood feet away just outside her locked front door.
I love doing the blog, but at the end of the day I’m still a print reporter, and sometimes that’s the top priority.
I’ll have another long story about everything that went wrong that day in Thursday’s paper, and will link to it once it’s up.
You can view the full police internal affairs report we got with a records request below.
Internal Affairs report on Lowell dispatcher firing http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf?document_id=33745490&access_key=key-13wp4wa8spqbmezq5ljd&page=1&viewMode=list
There’s nothing good about this story, and more than one mistake was made.
The print version of the paper, due to space concerns, also left out a comment from Superintendent Lavallee pointing out that despite this incident, most dispatchers in Lowell have saved hundreds of lives over the years, and do a good job.
Tough to think about that at a time like this, but the comment brought to mind the time a few years ago when an early night-shift dispatcher helped a woman who couldn’t get to the hospital deliver a baby over the 911 line.
Several people told me I should write about the incident, but the dispatcher, who I won’t name, absolutely refused. She’s friendly and talks to me often, but she just didn’t want credit for what she had done.
I just hope I did a fair and accurate job with this story, and the story that appears tomorrow.

Shots Fired – Lewis Street

I almost missed this call while I was at the accident on VFW Highway, but police were patrolling in the Acre tonight sometime around 9:15 or 9:30 when they heard several gunshots in the area of Lewis Street and soon found a car that had been shot.
No one was hurt, and a description of whoever fired the shots was not immediately available.
The Toyota that was parked on the right side of Lewis Street had a bullet in the bumper.

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And through the windshield.

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I didn’t get much more information at the scene. Police were already investigating a shots fired at the North Common earlier in the day.
In that incident, police tell me a man with a ponytail fired three gunshots out the passenger side window of a black Chevy Lumina that he was a passenger in as the car headed outbound on Fletcher Street past the common about 2:30 p.m.
No one was struck.
Anyone with information is asked to call Lowell police at 978-937-3200 or Crimestoppers at 978-459-TIPS (8477). Information can also be sent to police via Text-a-Tip, by texting TIP411 (847411) with the subject “LPDTIP.”
Tipsters can remain anonymous, but can receive up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.

Woman and Dog Struck by Car

Police tell me a woman and her dog were both seriously injured tonight about 9 p.m., when they were struck by a red Ford Mustang while leaving the city dog park on VFW Highway between Bridge Street and the Hunts Falls Rotary.
The woman suffered serious but non life-threatening injuries and was taken to Lowell General Hospital.
The dog, seen below, was helped by a pair of veterinary technicians who were in the area until animal control showed up and took the dog to Bulger Animal Hospital in North Andover.

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Sheila Chappell, on the left lives nearby and ran to help. Chastity Baldwin, of Lowell, was driving by when she saw the hurt dog.
Both women said they were not sure how the dog was doing. He appeared to be seriously hurt.
Police said no charges were filed, though the crash remains under investigation.

Teenage Girls Approached in Boxboro

Boxboro Police put out a press release tonight warning residents that there have been two incidents in which older men approached teenager girls in town recently.
The first incident was on June 18, on Burroughs Road, where an 11-year-old girl was walking about 11 a.m., when a gray mini-van pulled up next to her. An older man with gray hair and a scruffy beard slowed down and stared at the girl, but as he began to roll down his window the little girl ran to her home before he could speak.
Then on June 22, a 14-year-old girl was walking her dog on Stow Road about 9 a.m., when a man in a full-sized gray van pulled up next to her and asked if he could talk to her.
The girl said ‘no,’ and the man then asked if he could pet her dog. The girl said ‘no’ again, and the man drove off toward Massachusetts Avenue.
The man in the second incident was described as possibly Hispanic, in his mid-20’s, with black hair and a straight beard. He spoke with a slight accent.
Boxboro Police want anyone with information on these incidents to call them at 978.263.2628, and remind anyone who feels they are in danger to call 911.

Baby Struck in the Face by a BB

Sounds like police don’t have much to go on here, but they got a call from a woman who’s 1-year-old daughter was shot in the face with a BB today about 5:50 p.m.
The mother told police she was walking near Westford and Grand streets about 15 minutes earlier when she heard the sound of compressed air and noticed a trickle of blood on her daughter’s cheek.
It sounds like the girl was okay, her mother declined to have her treated at the scene and said she would take her to a city hospital on her own.
The mother told police she did not see who shot the BB though, and was not sure where it came from.
Anyone with information is asked to call Lowell police at 978-937-3200 or Crimestoppers at 978-459-TIPS (8477). Information can also be sent to police via Text-a-Tip, by texting TIP411 (847411) with the subject “LPDTIP.”
Tipsters can remain anonymous, but can receive up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.

Car Fire Closes Bridge

Police are in the process of closing the Ouellette Bridge that carries Aiken Street over the Merrimack River right now due to a car fire near LeLacheur Park.
Firefighters have a car fully involved near the park, and fire engines are blocking the street.
Police are closing Aiken at VFW Highway and Perkins Street.