You Reap What You Sow

By Terry Peloquin

By all accounts, they shouldn’t have survived. On Oct. 14, 2002, Martha and Bob LeHouiller were heading from Chicopee, Massachusetts, to their Florida home for the winter.

“Whenever she got in a car, however far she was going, Mom would always start with a prayer,” said their daughter, Michelle Annecchiarico of Ludlow, Massachusetts. Her dad, she said, had a “God is my Co-Pilot” novelty plate affixed to his car’s bumper.

Their faith would be rewarded in a dramatic way.

As Michelle was watching the news that day, the broadcast was interrupted for a special report. “They said there’s a major accident on Interstate 95. I told my husband, Pat, ‘I think Mom and Dad will probably be on that today.’ We could see the accident and the highway backed up for miles and miles.”

Then the phone rang.

It was a state trooper from North Carolina. “He told me they had my parents. They were part of this accident.”

The multi-car accident was horrific. Investigators said Bob and Martha were in the third car. One person died in each of the first two cars, and another person perished in the car behind them.

When the state troopers reached Bob and Martha, the trunk of Bob’s Lincoln Continental was up to his head. Both were slumped over. “The troopers were looking for live people,” Michelle said, “so they kept going. After checking the other cars, they came back. As soon as they opened the car door, Mom and Dad woke up! The troopers honestly did not think that they had survived. I mean, it knocked my mom’s hearing aids out of her ears!”

Both suffered bruises and cuts. Martha sustained a broken leg and would be hospitalized.

On the other side of the highway, Theresa Allen, a 31-year-old mother of two, stopped to help. She had been heading north to Martha’s Vineyard after visiting her mother in North Carolina. “All the traffic on both sides of the highway was stopped,” Michelle describes, “and so Theresa got out of her car, determined to go help somebody.”

Theresa salvaged what she could from Bob and Martha’s car and put it into her car. When Michelle spoke with Bob over the phone at the hospital, he said that he didn’t have his wallet or anything with him. Michelle asked him, “Where’s Mom’s purse?” He replied, “A super trooper helped us.”

Bob explained that a woman removed these things from their car. Michelle began imagining the worst, “Like a looter?” she asked.

“No,” Bob replied, “she was a super trooper.” 

Thinking Bob might have meant a state trooper helped him, Michelle asked the police about the woman, but they said none of them met the description.”

Then, Michelle got another phone call.

“This woman says, ‘Michelle? I’m Theresa. I’m with your parents.’”

Theresa told Michelle she would send all of Bob and Martha’s belongings home. Then, Theresa stayed with Bob and Martha that night while Martha was hospitalized to make sure they were both safe.

About three days later, the shipment arrived at Bob and Martha’s house. It weighed 140 pounds.

“She took that upon herself even though she was raising two boys on her own,” says Michelle. “I know that afterwards Dad repaid her, but she did that without even a second thought.”

A month later, after Thanksgiving, Michelle invited Theresa’s family to their house and later had a big reception for them.
“She literally was a gift from God,” says Michelle. “To this day we wonder, ‘How did that happen with Mom and Dad?’ But it’s just another example of you reap what you sow. Mom and Dad lived a life of mercy toward others. And Theresa was one of their blessings.”

Bob and Martha lived on until 2017 and 2019, respectively. Today, Michelle fosters the habit of prayer before a journey. “When I take my kids on a trip, we always start off with a prayer.” 

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