Bring It Back

This afternoon I met Micala Webster and her mom at their home in Pawtucketville. Micala is a 17-year-old girl, who my former co-worker Peter Ward wrote about back when she was just 8-years-old.
That’s when she was diagnosed with pineal blastoma, an extremely rare and aggressive type of cancer that attacks the brain and spinal cord.
It took her brain surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatment and a bone marrow transplant to do it, but Micala beat that cancer before she even finished fourth grade. Here I am at 33 and I doubt I could do that even now.
Micala, pictured below in a photo taken by Julia Malakie, wasn’t out of the woods, though. The radiation and bone marrow transplant left her with a curved spine, stunted growth, stage 4 heart failure that may someday require a transplant, damaged hearing, kidney stones, gall stones, diabetes, and other ailments.
Micala has kept on living despite those problems too. She told me she takes seven pills in the morning, five in the afternoon, and nine at night.
Her heart condition and curved spine make it exhausting and painful for Micala to walk more than a few dozen yards.
“My back and my hips start to hurt,” she told me.

Window

So Micala, who rarely leaves the house since she’s home-school by her mother, a former teacher, needs a wheelchair whenever she goes out.
Just after her 13th birthday, when she was diagnosed with heart-failure caused by the radiation treatments, Micala got a custom-built wheelchair designed for her small frame.
Doctors measured her and built the chair with a smaller seat to fit her 4’6 frame. The distance from the seat to the foot rests is shorter than usual among other customizations.
So with everything Micala has been through what else happened last week?
Between Sunday night and Monday morning, the 21st and 22nd, someone broke into her mom’s minivan while it was parked in their driveway off West Meadow Road, and stole the wheelchair.
They left the change that was in the car. They didn’t rifle through the glove box.
Cindi Webster had been busy on Sunday and forgot to lock one of the doors. Since the door was unlocked, the family’s insurance won’t cover the loss.
Police have no witnesses or suspects.
Micala and her mom discovered the theft when they went to the grocery store that Monday and went to get the wheelchair out of the minivan.
For Micala, going to the grocery store or the mall is a big deal. She’s out of the house.
She’s now using another wheelchair loaned to the family by an 86-year-old who doesn’t need it right now, but its way too big for her. It’s also heavy. Her mom tried pushing it while pulling a shopping cart the other day and had to give up after browsing three aisles.

Window

“Why did you take it?” Micala said she would ask whoever is responsible. “I hope they bring it back.”
Cindi still works for the Community Christian Academy in Lowell. The school found her work she could do from home at night while Micala is sleeping. Her husband Peter works two jobs, and got home from work while we were talking.
The couple has “great” insurance, but it still only covers about 80 percent of Micala’s medical bills. This family can’t afford a new chair. There’s no room in their budget to start saving up.
And yet Cindi was worried about appearing in the paper like she was asking for donations.
“You can’t have a fundraiser every five minutes,” she told me. She talked about the incredible help people have already given the family.
She just wants Micala’s chair back.
I meet a lot of incredible people in this job. Cops who risk their lives, firefighters who risk their lives, and incredible people of all varieties, but I’m not sure I’ve ever met someone who’s been through as much as Micala.
And there she sat on her couch today, playing with her dog and smiling. She told me the family has a saying. “If it’s not brain surgery, it’s not that big of a deal.”
I think this kid is amazing, and I hope she finds her chair.
“I wanted to put a sign in my front lawn that says, ‘I hope you have no legs and really needed the chair because you made my daughter cry,'” Cindi told me. “It’s just pathetic. I just want it back.”
Micala’s wheelchair has a black seat and a silver frame, with “Prax-air” and “Invacare” written on the frame. It had hard, black plastic spokes on the wheels, and the right armrest was cracked.
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.

Advertisements

Back to Work

I haven’t had much time to blog since I got back from vacation and I apologize for that. Much like I need to get back to work on the blog, I found out tonight that Sgt. Mickey O’Keefe and Officer Carlos Ramirez will both be returning to work on Wednesday as well.
On Aug. 19, Sgt. O’Keefe and Officer Ramirez each fired one gunshot that struck William Dolan, 54, of Lowell, while they responded to a call about a domestic incident.
Both men have been on paid leave ever since, pending an internal affairs investigation into their use of force.

Window

They had been called to 402 E. Merrimack Street for a report that a man was choking his 80-year-old mother.
O’Keefe and Ramirez encountered Dolan in a hallway of the apartment, where court records allege Dolan was holding a knife and approached the officers. Despite repeated orders to show his hands and drop the knife, court records say Dolan continued advancing.
Dolan was shot in the thigh and rib cage, and spent several days in the hospital, where he was arraigned on Aug. 23. He is charged with attempted murder, assault and battery on a person over 60, assault and battery, and two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon.
He is being held on $5,000 cash bail.
Deputy Superintendent Arthur Ryan sent out a statement today announcing that an internal investigation, underway since the shooting, has found that O’Keefe and Ramirez acted in line with department policy on use of force.
Their actions were “reasonable an necessary due to the life threatening encounter that they had with the suspect, Mr. Dolan,” Ryan wrote in a prepared statement.
Both men have been on paid leave since the incident, but will return to duty on Wednesday.
I spoke with a man who identified himself as Dolan’s brother last week, and while he did not want to comment in print, he seemed very nice, and expressed concern not only for his brother and his family, but for Lowell Police as well.

Stabbed? Eh, Can I Bum a Cigarette?

You can say what you want about Lowell and the Back Central neighborhood, but you can’t say that folks there are easily shaken.
Police got called to 648 Gorham Street, at the corner of Gorham and Central streets, about 6:10 p.m., for a report of a man who was stabbed.

Window

Officers found a man on a second-floor porch in the rear of the building suffering from a stab wound to the abdomen. The wound wasn’t bleeding, but sometimes that can be a bad sign, and EMT’s rushed him from the building to Lahey Clinic, in Burlington.
The man appeared to be in his 20’s or 30’s, but was said to be totally uncooperative with police. He wouldn’t even provide his age.

Window

Several neighbors told me they hadn’t seen or heard any fighting prior to the victim showing up.
One neighbor, who didn’t tell me his name, said he first saw the shirtless victim walking around the back of the building from the direction of Central Street.

Window

“He came up to me and asked for a cigarette and told me not to call anybody,” that man said.
There were no drops of blood at the scene to show where the man had come from. Police are still investigating.
http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f8/1570028818
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.

Mother Runs Over Daughter in Littleton

Police and firefighters were called to 51 Matawanakee Trail in Littleton by multiple 911 calls today at 5:55 p.m.
What they found is one of the worst things I’ve covered in a long time.
Deputy Chief Matt King tells me a mother was pulling into her driveway in a black Honda CRV, pictured below, and ran over her own 10-year-old daughter, who was playing, and possibly laying down in the driveway.

Window

The young girl, who neighbors described as “beautiful,” and a perfect neighbor, was rushed to the Littleton Police Station, where a MedFlight helicopter flew her to Children’s Hospital in Boston.
Her injuries were grave, and considered to be life-threatening. Police did not immediately identify the girl or her mother until they confirmed the entire family was notified.

Window

Next-door neighbors Pat and Kris Johnson were besides themselves. Pat Johnson said she felt sick to her stomach.
They both said the family is wonderful, and that they have been marvelous neighbors over the years in a tight-knit neighborhood.
“They are truly lovely neighbors and tremendous, caring parents,” Pat Johnson said.

Window

The Johnsons said the entire neighborhood will be there to support the family, whatever the outcome of this.
“I wish there was something more I could do,” Pat Johnson said.
Deputy King said there are no indications that alcohol or carelessness were factors.
“All indications we can look at make it appear to be just a tragic, tragic accident,” King said.
http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f8/1570028818

Downtown Break and Arrest

Police got a call from someone tonight about 11:30 p.m., reporting that a man had just kicked in the front door at The Coffee Mill Emporium at Middle and Palmer streets downtown.
Officers arrived just as a man was leaving the store. Officer Danny Brito chased him on foot across Merrimack Street, before catching up and making an arrest in the yard of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, at Merrimack and Kirk streets.

Window

William Clegg, 33, of Lowell, will face a count of breaking and entering night, and possibly more charges. He was being held tonight.
Clegg has 50 arraignments on his adult criminal history, according to police radio broadcasts.
His most recent arrests, according to our archives here at The Sun, were for possession of a class A substance, conspiracy to violate drug laws, unarmed robbery, domestic assault and battery, shoplifting, and a restraining order violation.

Six Children Unrestrained

Police got called to West Sixth Street at Bunker Hill Avenue tonight about 7:30 p.m., for a report of an accident with injuries.
They arrived to find a beat up green minivan, pictured below, that was heading toward Bridge Street had struck the passenger side of a Ford Taurus, also pictured, as the Taurus made a left turn from West Sixth onto Bunker Hill Avenue, police said.
In the minivan were 35-year-old Sheila Johnston, of Lowell, who was driving, and six children between the ages of 3 and 15 none of whom had seat belts on, according to police.

Window

The Taurus was driven by Robert Tremblay, 76, of Lowell. A 67-year-old female passenger from Lowell was trapped in the vehicle until firefighters freed her with hydraulic tools.
One of the minivan’s bumpers was, for reasons I can’t explain, in the back of the minivan along with the kids when the crash occurred. There was also a side window on the minivan that had been replaced by plywood.
All six children, one of whom is pictured below, were taken to Lowell General Hospital.

Window

None of the injuries is believed to be life threatening, which seems like a pretty lucky outcome here.
Johnston was issued multiple citations.

Alleged Drunken Driver Hits Pole

Officers in Car 4 were on their way to another call tonight about 7:30 p.m., and were driving down Lawrence Street, just before Billerica Street when they came upon what is pictured below.

Window

No one was hurt, but a pole on the side of Lawrence Street was sheared off.
A few minutes later Car 4 had the man pictured below in custody on an OUI charge. I snapped a few quick pictures and then bolted across the city for a more serious accident in Centralville.

Window

I didn’t see any major outages reported due to this, but police had to block off Lawrence Street between Billerica Street and Woburn Street until utility crews could repair the pole.
Chan Thoueithaisong, 55, of 438 Lincoln St., who is pictured above on the right, was charged with operating under the influence of alcohol.