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MassCops Founder
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Found this today and thought I would pass it along....


My Friend, Trooper Ellen
WBZ NewsRadio's Jordan Rich
Jan 21, 2005 10:08 pm

Muffins and decaf at 2:00 am, a framed square arial photo of Paragon Park at Nantasket Beach, a well worn black Massachusetts State Police t-shirt. These and some fascinating early morning phone calls to my radio show are very much a part of my Ellen Engelhardt personal scrapbook. So many listeners like her have become close buddies of mine.

Our friendship grew from her frequent calls to my show in the wee hours. Ellen would occasionally visit me at the station after her shift, always bearing those muffins and cups of coffee. She and I often exchanged e-mail, letters and gifts. She was always the very first to donate to Children's Hospital at Christmas time.

I treasure that photo of Paragon Park. She sent it to me for my birthday one year after hearing me talk about my fun as a kid hanging out at the beach and carousel. During her occasional coffee breaks, she'd check in to talk about whatever hot topic we had going. Inevitably, I would ask her about her night on patrol. She would always assure me that despite a few road crazies that she attended to, all was well. Knowing pros like Ellen (one of the first female state troopers by the way) were out there made me and the rest of the audience feel a lot more secure.

I never ended my calls with Ellen without borrowing a line from "Hill Street Blues," reminding her to be safe out there. I last spoke with her hours before it happened. Before her life and that of her family and friends changed forever.

Former Massachusetts State Trooper Ellen Engelhardt made the news again this week. She arrived on her wheelchair in court, watching silently as the person who robbed her of all that she had been was sentenced. It seems that all that she can do is watch. And perhaps wonder silently. You see, Ellen Engelhardt has not walked, talked or fed herself since 6 am July 26, 2003. It was then that a wild, out of control drunken teenager with a tattered driving record, plowed into her parked police cruiser at 90 mph in Wareham. His injuries were minor, just a few scratches. The now 20 year old William Senne was sentenced to a mere 2 years in jail for an act of irresponsibility that robbed one of the finest people I know of her career, her family, her life. Prosecutors pressed for a 7 to 10 year sentence.

It seems terribly unjust that a murderer whose weapon happens to be a car can receive less of a sentence than that of a pickpocket or backyard pot grower. Welcome to Massachusetts, where even the presence in the courtroom of a ravaged victim like Ellen does little to influence a judge who seemingly feels more empathy for a crying defendant.

My friend Ellen now merely exists, suspended in her world of permanent round the clock care, countless operations, and dim hope for recovery, let alone improvement. Ellen was a beautiful, vibrant, active mother and daughter with a great love of sports, good books, and late night radio. Her glowing spirit lies trapped inside a broken body. Her daughter and boyfriend have told me that she does respond to touch, to voice and music, and to the presence of those she loves. But how unfair is it that this highly trained professional safety officer never even had the chance to defend herself? Tragedy in the form of a reckless, irresponsible idiot blindsided her.

I've wondered if she ever saw him approaching in her rear view mirror. He was one of those crazies that Ellen protected us from while on patrol. How ironic that several months earlier, she survived another vicious motor vehicle attack while parked at the side of the road. How damned unfair.

Here's something you should know. Ellen's daughter Lora and Trooper Rick Teves, Ellen's boyfriend of 10 years, have devoted their lives to her care and support. When the TV cameras and reporters drifted away following the accident, when the get well cards slowed to a trickle, Lora, Rick and those closest to Ellen continue to do the things for her that most of us don't ever want to think about. They care for her. They hold out hope.

Their love is so impressive and their dedication unwavering. It is a testament to all that Ellen is. Lora will give birth in March to a baby boy, Ellen's first grandchild. My hope is that he grows up to know that his grandmother caught a bad break, but she has lived such a worthwhile life that has affected so many of us in such a positive way. God Bless you Ellen. Thanks for being my buddy!

MassCops Founder
6,403 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Ric & Ellie: A love story
By Jack Thomas, Globe Staff | March 30, 2005

MIDDLEBOROUGH -- It's Saturday night, but State Police Sergeant Ric Teves and Trooper Ellen Engelhardt are not going out to dinner. They're not snuggling in their Marion home to watch ''Law & Order," and he's not giving her one of the foot massages she loves.

Instead, he parks his 1990 Volvo with 288,000 miles on it, and he walks through the frigid night air and into the lobby of Middleborough Skilled Care Center, past the receptionist and past the bubbling fish tank. As he makes his way down the hall, the knot tightens again in his stomach, as it does every day when he visits the woman he calls his best friend.

''Hey, honey," he says, walking into Room 206, where the television is tuned to ''Everybody Loves Raymond," and there she is, sitting in a wheelchair, paralyzed, her head tilted back, her eyes to the ceiling, her mouth agape, her hands and feet encased in plastic to control spasms.

This is the prison to which Engelhardt and Teves have been sentenced as the result of one horrific moment shortly after 6 on the morning of Saturday, July 26, 2003. While Engelhardt was parked in the breakdown lane of Route 25 in Wareham, her cruiser was rear-ended by a car driven by a drunk teenager that was traveling in excess of 90 miles per hour. The impact thrust her vehicle forward at a speed of 50 miles per hour, and it thrust Engelhardt back, into a catatonic state in which she can no longer walk, talk, eat, or communicate in any way.

The crash fractured a cervical vertebra, her larynx, and her jaw. She required two craniotomies and one lobectomy. She lost part of her skull and part of her brain.

Seventeen miles to the east, at the Plymouth County House of Correction, William Senne is serving a 30-month sentence for driving the car that struck Englehardt, and while he may be in front of a television, too, he is probably unaware that Englehardt is being fed 66 cc's an hour through a gastrointestinal tube and being oxygenated through a hole in her trachea that affords access to the lungs and an avenue to clear phlegm.

''How are you, honey?" says Teves, leaning down to kiss her.

Using a tissue, he cleans her bib.

''Let's get the gunk out," he says. He grabs a tube, flips a switch, and begins to suction phlegm from her throat. ''It's a little thick, huh?"

It is impossible to know whether she's cognizant of everything he's doing, or nothing. No one knows whether she is aware of the wall that is lined with photographs, love notes, religious icons, and a sign, across from her bed, that says ''Believe in Miracles."

She is dressed in sweat pants and a T-shirt with animal figures, and her feet are encased in plastic sleeves to keep them straight. Because her own shoes are too small, she is wearing Teves's sneakers, size 11.

''That means a little bit of me is here with you every night, right, honey?"

An alarm goes off. Teves looks to the machine alongside her bed.

''That lets us know her temperature has dropped, and we need to make her warmer," he says, wrapping her ravaged body in a blanket. ''They say there's a reason for everything. I don't know what it is, but it sure gives you a more humble view of life."

This is a love story. It begins at the State Police barracks in Yarmouth, where they met.

From the beginning, he admired her. Sometimes they'd encounter each other at social engagements, always with their spouses. After their marriages failed, Teves was reluctant to express affection. He wanted to avoid even a hint of impropriety.

Then one night, in the winter of 1993, she was working the desk at Yarmouth.

''Hey," he said. ''I haven't seen you in a while. What's going on?"

They chatted and -- spontaneously -- he suggested they have dinner.

''Sure," she said.

The next day she telephoned.

''Are we still on for dinner?"

''Of course," he said. ''Why not?"

''Well, I thought maybe you were just being polite."

He was waiting for her at the Mattapoisett Inn. When she walked in, blond hair to her shoulders and her blue eyes scanning the room, he remembers thinking, ''Wow, she looks like a million bucks."

As days went by, they traded cellphone calls and then began to spend weekends together, afternoons at the beach, and nights at restaurants from Providence to Scituate.

''I always respected her work ethic," says Teves. ''About romance, I was cautiously optimistic."

They vacationed in Aruba, and then, in 1995, they had a house built in Marion, setting aside one bedroom for visits by her daughter, Lora, and another for visits by his daughter, Samantha. They bought an Akita and named him Inu, Japanese for ''big dog."

They learned from each other, too.

He taught her to love Japanese food. She restored his faith in God.

He'd been raised a Catholic. Every school he attended from kindergarten to graduate school had been affiliated with the church. As his first marriage unraveled, he prayed for God's help, and when his marriage dissolved, so did his faith in the church.

With Engelhardt, though, he attended Mass regularly at St. Patrick's in Wareham. On Sundays when she worked nights and he days, they'd attend Mass -- in uniform -- at St. Pius X in Yarmouth, she parking her cruiser at the side, he at the back.

Life was blissful. After a day at the beach or at work, they'd nestle in the home they loved and they'd listen to the British Invasion All-Stars or the Moody Blues, or they'd watch ''LA Law" or ''NYPD Blue."

Sometimes, when they held hands, he'd send her a signal. He'd squeeze her hand three times -- code for ''I love you." She'd respond by squeezing his hand twice, code for ''Me, too."

On Jan. 20, the day Senne appeared in Brockton Superior Court to plead guilty and to be sentenced, Teves appeared with Engelhardt in her wheelchair. In statements before the judge, Lora, seven months pregnant, recalled her mother's independence and the joy she took in her work as a state cop and in simple pleasures: concerts, a Bruins game, even walking her dog.

Standing alongside Engelhardt's wheelchair, Teves told the judge, ''I can't imagine someone better than Ellie. She's the kind of person you wait a lifetime for." Toward the Senne family, he said, he held no ill will, because whatever the sentence, 25 years or two, it would not bring back Ellie.

Afterward, an assistant district attorney approached and said, ''Listen, Mrs. Senne is upstairs. She'd like to talk to you guys."

Lora was not up to it, but Teves said he agreed to meet her.

''We'd been told she was a nice person," says Teves.

''I told her I was sorry Bill had to go away, that I understood how she felt, as a mom, but that Bill had to be responsible for his actions. She said she absolutely understood, and that there wasn't a day she didn't pray for Ellie.

''I came away liking her, and lately I've been giving some thought to visiting the kid in the can. I might get up the courage to do that."

'Coffee's on," says Teves, from the kitchen.

He sits at the table in his customary place, across from where Engelhardt always sat. On the cabinet in back of her chair, he has set a photograph so that at every meal he can see her image. It's the last photograph of her before the accident. She is seated next to him at a wedding reception, smiling, tanned, all blue eyes and blond hair, and leaning against him, her hand clinging to his upper arm.

''She was a beautiful woman," he says. ''She still is, but she looks a little different, that's all."

Twenty months after the accident, the reality has become painfully obvious.

''There may be a miracle," he says, ''but as days turn to months and months to years, the likelihood is less."

If there has been no miracle, it's not for lack of trying.

Having traveled to France with his mother four years ago, Teves came home with a bottle of water from Lourdes, and he used it daily last year to bless Engelhardt. Having seen a television documentary about a Venezuelan credited with miracle cures, he attempted to contact her, only to learn she'd died. Having been telephoned by a police officer in Seekonk who offered holy water from Bosnia, Teves drove 80 miles to Seekonk and back one Saturday morning, thinking, ''This could be it."

But nothing has worked.

''Well, maybe it has," he says. ''Maybe the reason Ellen is this healthy is because of the water from Lourdes or Bosnia. Maybe miracles are happening. But when you've had two craniotomies and a lobectomy and 20 months have gone by, a pragmatic person might say the path we're on is the path we're going to be on."

Still, he has not lost hope. The dining room table is littered with books and magazines about brain injuries. The first-floor bathtub is used to store a range of medical supplies given to him by hospitals -- nostrums, stethoscopes, and such, all in a hope that one day she'll come home.

''I like this house, but I don't like it, not without her," he says. ''Everything reminds me of her. I listen to her favorite Disney album and I get teary eyed. The old saying is true. You don't realize how much you love something till you lose it."

Lora, 30, who gave birth this month to Engelhardt's first grandchild, goes through the same remorse.

''I do see life differently," she says. ''I never take even one minute for granted. I know how precious life is, and I know it can disappear in a heartbeat."

In recent days, Teves has been riveted to the national debate about the removal of a feeding tube from Terri Schiavo in Florida, for Englehardt was taken off a respirator in September 2003, but without threat to her life.

The accident in Wareham was the second time that Engelhardt was rear-ended by a drunk driver. In the first crash, October 2002, she suffered a cervical sprain that sidelined her six months. She had been back to work only three weeks when the second drunk slammed into her cruiser.

Why, then, is Teves not angrier?

''I have to remain positive," he says. ''If the pope can forgive a jackass who tried to assassinate him, that's a good example for me.

''I'm just a Portuguese kid from Fall River, and I still believe God has some big plan that I don't know what the hell I'm a part of. I'm not trying to sound like a theologian, but we're all here to do His will, so, somehow this must be part of His plan. I'm not angry at God. Sometimes I wonder if it was something I've done that [ticked] Him off, but I've been told that, no, He doesn't operate that way. But when you sit down as human beings, the way we're talking, and you try to figure this out, you have to conclude it's all way above us."

On Easter Sunday, after Mass, Teves visited Ellen. He massaged her feet, as he often does, because sometimes, he says, it produces a reflex in her toes. ''As I was massaging her on Sunday, I noticed a reaction, and I said, 'Honey, that's your right foot. I want you to move your right foot.' " Nothing happened for 15 minutes, he says, but he continued to encourage her and continued to massage.

Holding the bottom of her foot in one hand, he rubbed the top and said, soothingly, ''Ellen, this is your right foot. I want you to move it. C'mon, honey, move your right foot."

And then he felt it.

''On her own, for the first time, Ellen Englehardt moved her whole foot."

At 4 a.m., two hours before the accident, Engelhardt called, and they spoke for the last time. They talked about a hit-and-run accident she was investigating, and they decided that after work they'd spend the day at the beach. ''My beach bag's in the bedroom, already packed," he recalls her saying.

It's still there where she left it, on the floor at the foot of her bed, alongside her flip-flops and a cooler for her Diet Pepsi.

''Here's what a good cop she was," says Teves. ''A lot of times, she'd write warnings. She thought a warning was as good as a summons. She'd say, why bag some poor guy for a fine plus an insurance surcharge? That's why someone described her as the Florence Nightingale of Route 6."

When the call came that she'd been in a serious accident, Teves raced to the scene.

''In 25 years as a cop, I've been to a bunch of wrecks, but words can't describe what I saw. I looked at her car and I thought: You've got to be kidding. I knew she was alive, because they were working on her, but I looked at her and said, this can't be Ellie. I mean, I knew it was her body, but it couldn't be Ellie. I just talked to her two hours ago."

As the helicopter was about to lift off for the dawn flight to Boston, a medic said, ''You can give her a kiss if you want to."

''I looked down at her, and it occurred to me it might be the last time I'd see her. So, I said thanks, and I leaned down and gave her a kiss."

At the hospital, the doctors were not optimistic Engelhardt would survive. Lora was stunned. ''You wouldn't know it was my mother, because her face was all swollen, black and blue, and bloody."

In the waiting room, Engelhardt's family and fellow state troopers held hands and, in unison, they began to pray aloud, ''Our Father, who art in heaven. . ."

Back in Engelhardt's room at the rehabilitation center, Teves approaches her wheelchair.

''Almost time for you to go back to bed, kiddo, what do you think?"


He kneels, undoes her laces, takes off her sneakers, detaches the feeder, cradles her body, hoists her, and lays her gently on the bed. He puts a stuffed monkey around the back of her neck as a cushion, and then a stuffed raccoon in her right hand, and a stuffed Scooby-Doo in her left.

He holds her hand and looks into her eyes. Sometimes he squeezes her hand three times -- I love you. There is no response.

A nurse arrives. ''Oh, she's in bed already?"

''Yes," says Teves. ''I like doing it. At least I get a hug out of the deal, you know?"

He reaches for the tube one more time, turns on the vacuum and suctions her throat.

''If it gets congested in there," he explains, ''her ability to get oxygen becomes degraded."

The task complete, he turns off the vacuum.

He leans over the bed.

''Time to say goodnight, kiddo."

He bends and kisses her brow, then heads for the door, saying over his shoulder, one last time, ''See you tomorrow, honey."

A few steps down the hall, he stops. He pauses, then he returns to her room. He reaches to the wall and flips a switch.

''I just realized," he says. ''The light was too bright for her."

Jack Thomas can be reached at [email protected].

547 Posts
I read that a couple days ago and I honestly couldn't help myself but to cry. It broke my heart to read it. It's awful that the kid who hit her is only getting 2 years. I know no matter how much time he does it's not going to change the fact that she is how she is now, but 2 years is just not enough. I don't know what I'd ever do if it was me and my loved one in that situation.

I don't know what else to was just a very sad, but very nice thing to read about Ellie and her boyfriend. He's a very good man.

Its is a heartbreaker for sure. I dont know Ellen, but have followed this tragic story. Its obvious she is a wonderful person/trooper. I am a candidate for the 78 RTT, when I have those days when I want to skip the gym or cut my run short, I just think of what Ellen and her family are going thru. It becomes easy to get my butt in gear.

As much as Ellen's life has been devastated, I just hope she and her family realize she continues to have a positive effect on many people's lives, including mine.

I never knew Ellen personally, but I am married to a Trooper that is from her barracks. I think of Ellen each day and wear the "Team Englehart" braclet for everyone to know how wonderful she is! My husband, daughter, myself and friends take part of the Ellie's Run each year, which turns out to be an excellent day and adventure!! My prayers and thoughts are always with Rich and Lora and Ellen's family. I don't know exactly what you are going through but I know how wonderful a Trooper Ellen is and how wonderful of a friend she has been for many people! I pray that a miracle will happen to Ellen because she deserves to enjoy life as she has with many of her friends and family!! Take care Ellen.. get better soon!!!!! We love you and think of you each day.. we miss you!!!

547 Posts
I ran yesterday, first time. Great event. It was a great day for a run, great cause, the stuff afterwards was great. Good atmosphere through out the whole day. And I didn't do too bad either!!

4,172 Posts
I'm a friend of the family, I worked the race last year but was unable to participate this year. This is a sad state of affairs and we can only continue to pray for Ellen. Too, we must pray for, and forgive, Senne (something I know we must do, but don't know if I can, yet.). I expect a rash of "POS" posts regarding the 'Senne' sentiment...but Christianity requires forgiveness...Check Ric's statement above...he knows he has to forgive's just 'when'. As Jesus exclaimed "...forgive them Father, for they know not what they do...". It's just hard for us to do it.

83 Posts
I often find motorists stopped in the breakdown lane "waiting for a friend." When I tell them to move along, they cop an attitude. "Why, I'm just waiting for my friend to meet me here." I try to explain that the four inch painted line on the pavement is no protection from being killed. This unfortunate circumstance happens often. Another victim was killed yesterday on 495 in Frannklin when a man stopped to check his tire in the BDL and was killed when a landscaper veered into the bdl and hit him, then screwed. He was caught and is being held at the Foxboro barracks. If it had to happen, maybe the victim was lucky to be killed and not sentenced to a life of torture like Ellen. rhl

189 Posts
As I was going over past posts I came across the story of Trooper Ellen Engelhardt.It's ironic because even though I have never known her or work for the State Police I often think about her,her daughter and Trooper Teves.There tends to be alot of arguments on Masscops, of which alot are well founded, but when things are put in perspective what matters to me is the well being of hero's like Trooper Engelhardt.I just wanted to say to all of the Troopers that know her and Trooper Teves that she is still in the thoughts of many people and even though I am not religious I pray for her well being and hopefull recovery.

4,172 Posts

Your comment resurrected an old thread (and rightly so). As I re-read the thread, crying my way through it, it reminded me of how fleeting our time here is. A hideous occurence, still I maintain that we must continue to pray for Ellen, and continue to pray for the strength to forgive Citizen Senne.

If we cannot bring ourselves to forgive Citizen Senne, how then can we hope to achieve The Kingdom? He's a kid...he made a wrong choice. If he regrets and repents that choice, we cannot gainsay him.

Hey, at heart I'm an "eye-for-an-eye" guy. But since my heart does not rule my head, logic must obtain. There is nothing to be gained by retribution against this kid...Ellen's damage will not be assuaged by such a course.

Ellen will likely need nursing for the rest of her life. The people who will provide that support, Rick, Lori, Irma et al, need our support. Say a prayer, and contribute monetarily as you are able.

Just a thought of an old hoss trooper.

2,255 Posts
I think about Trooper Engelhardt from time to time and I still remember the feeling I got when I read that Globe story. I found this story on the clown that hit her cruiser and his brother this morning. Nice family huh? :BM:


Wayland teen faces assault, theft charges
By Peter Reuell
Friday, December 15, 2006 - Updated:
14:57 PM EST

A Wayland teen arrested Wednesday on assault and car theft charges lives at the same address as another teen who pled guilty to a drunk-driving crash which left a state trooper with brain damage.
Peter E. Senne, 18, of 27 Forty Acres Drive, Wayland, was arrested just after 9 p.m. Wednesday outside the New England Sports Center by Marlborough Police.
Records from the town of Wayland also list William Senne, 23, as living at the same address. He pleaded guilty last January to charges of drunken driving and driving to endanger after his Volvo in 2003 plowed into the back of Massachusetts State Police Trooper Ellen Englehart's cruiser, leaving her with extensive brain damage.
He was ordered to serve two years in prison, followed by five years of probation.
According to police, Peter Senne was at the Marlborough sports complex with a group of people when he left and began walking across the parking lot. As he crossed the lot, police said, he spotted a 2004 Chevy Trailblazer which had been left unlocked with the keys in the ignition.
The teen allegedly climbed into the SUV and tried to drive away, prompting the boyfriend of the vehicle's owner to give chase. Senne stopped after a short distance, and when the boyfriend caught up to him, allegedly hit the man with an open fist.
The boyfriend and another man then held Senne until police arrived. He was charged with assault and battery, larceny of a motor vehicle and driving without a license.
Senne was arraigned in Marlborough District Court yesterday and released on personal recognizance.
Peter Reuell can be reached at 508-626-4428 or at [email protected]

4,172 Posts
Adventures in superior parenting...let's see if Peter can wreck a families life.:mad:

Anyone for retroactive abortion?:cool:

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