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Full recovery for girl who collided with truck on 2A

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AYER — Thanks to the Ayer Police Patrol Officers’ Association, an 8-year old Ayer girl has come full circle after being struck by a tractor trailer on Route 2A/Littleton Road in June. On Monday, Aug. 8, officers presented the girl and her brother with some gifts which has left their parents searching for ways to say thanks.

WHEN BACKPEDDLING FAILS

Classes let out for the summer at the Page-Hilltop School on June 22 for 8-year old Emily Bostwick of Willard Street. Summer break came two days later for her mother, Michelle “Shelly” Bostwick, who is a cafeteria worker at the Hildreth Elementary School in Harvard. The job allows her to be home during the summer with Emily and her 10-year old son Joshua.

On June 28, Michelle’s husband, Bobby, was also home, inside with son, Joshua. Outside, Emily announced “I’m going for a bike ride.” Emily ventured out for the first time on her big brother’s bike, with helmet on, as always.

Michelle watched from the front stoop. “She knows the boundaries,” said Michelle. “This one time she went a little further.”

Attracted by a whimsically decorated yard outside the safety zone, Emily rode briefly outside of Michelle’s view. The wheels of disaster were set in motion.

Emily soon found herself zooming down Willard Road toward Littleton Road. Unlike the coaster bikes she was used to, Joshua’s bike used hand brakes, which she wasn’t strong enough to apply. And, peddling backward did not break her speed.

“I was right outside, waiting for her to come back,” said Michelle. “All of the traffic on Route 2A came to a standstill, so I went to check it out, being nosy.” It was then that she locked eyes with a maintenance worker a few doors away.

“I knew from the look on his face,” Michelle said. “He asked me if I had a daughter. I said ‘Dear God’ and took off.”

Michelle recognized the purple flowered bike helmet from a distance. It was never a problem getting her children to wear the helmets. “I always have to remind them to take their helmets off after they ride.”

The helmet saved Emily’s life.

“Just seeing her…the worst part was the blood. I didn’t know where it was coming from” said Shelly. The helmet harness had cut Emily’s ear. She also suffered a concussion but it could have been much worse.

According to police accounts, Emily sped down Willard Street directly into the path of a passing 18-wheeler headed eastbound on Littleton Road. George Hoffman of New York was driving.

Hoffman slammed on the breaks, leaving extensive skid marks to try to prevent impact with Emily. Hoffman himself couldn’t give an exact account of what happened but Emily was on the ground and the bike was under the front wheel of the cab.

“All I remember is yelling ‘go get Bobby! Somebody needs to get him,” said Michelle.”The whole time, all she wanted was to go home,” said Michelle. “She kept saying ‘please I want to go home and see my Daddy.”

Bobby ran to the scene before Emily was transported to Nashoba Valley Medical Center by Ayer Ambulance. “Next thing I knew, all of a sudden I looked up and saw him,” said Michelle. “He mouthed the words ‘What happened?’ and I said ‘I don’t know yet.”

Emily was flown to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester where she recuperated overnight. “Considering what could have happened, this is fine!” said Michelle.

Later, Joshua saw officers carrying his mangled bicycle away from the accident scene on the evening news. “What are they doing with my bike?” recalled Michelle. Bobby explained it all. “He had no idea,” said Michelle. “He just started crying.”

When Emily returned home from the hospital, Michelle asked the police to contact the truck driver. “I said you don’t have to but would you mind talking to the driver so I can talk to this poor man?” Michelle recalled.

“I said ‘I need to thank you,” Michelle recalled saying to Hoffman. He asked why. She recalled answering, “I sit out with the kids and I see hundreds of trucks going down the road and not paying any attention. I appreciate it more than you can imagine.”

“It scares me,” said Michelle. “I was so thankful that he was paying attention even though he was from out of state.”

Michelle said Hoffman cried and said he wished he could have avoided the accident. “And I said I do want to let you know that Emily’s going to make it and be perfectly fine.” Then it sounded like he was hyperventilating,” said Michelle. “He said his granddaughter’s name was Emily.”

THE AYER POLICE PAY A FOLLOW-UP VISIT

On Sunday, Aug. 7 while patrolling the Devenscrest neighborhood, Ayer Police Detective Andrew Kularski saw Bobby and Emily. “He hadn’t seen Emily since seeing her in ICU in Worcester,” said Michelle. “He’d asked then if he could come back and meet her.”

Kularski said he’d call on Monday for a follow up visit. “I figured he had bigger things to do,” said Michelle. But Kularski did call and asked if he could return Emily’s bike helmet that had been held as evidence in the crash investigation. He also said he wanted to present Emily with a new helmet.

When he arrived Emily beamed. “She loved it,” Michelle said. “She was ecstatic.” With Kularski nearby and without missing a beat, Emily returned to her neighborhood beat.

“She yelled at the top of her lungs, and does all the time, ‘WHERE’S YOUR HELMET? PUT YOUR HELMET ON!” said Michelle. Emily’s on helmet patrol, said Michelle.

But the visit gave Kularski another idea. He asked if Joshua’s bike had been replaced. It had been offered earlier that Joshua might find a replacement bike among the collection of abandoned bikes at the Ayer Police station. But Kularksi returned a couple of hours later with fellow Detective Kellie Barhight and presented Joshua with a new bicycle, courtesy of the Ayer Police Patrol Officers’ Association.

Joshua and Emily put their helmets on and took turns riding Joshua’s new bike. “This is the first time since the accident,” said Michelle. “Like they say – you fall, you get right back on it.” Michelle said the bike helped return a sense of normalcy for her children.

Michelle shared that Page-Hilltop Principal Fred Deppe visited and asked what could be done for the family. Michelle asked for a helmet awareness program. “At least if we started with the kindergartners, they’d understand it. And if we have to use this as an example…..”

“It scares me to think of what could have happened if I didn’t make her wear it,” said Michelle. Kularski agreed, “If Emily had not worn her helmet this accident could have turned out a lot different,” said Kularski. “We are thankful that Emily is OK. Emily is proof-positive that bike helmets save lives!”

Barhight noted that Emily has what it takes to spread the word. “We hope that over the years Emily will share her experience with others to encourage them about the importance of wearing a helmet.”

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