With every criminal he catches, a police officer is serving, protecting, and honoring the people who put their trust in him. But there are those whose desire to keep a whole community safe that goes beyond what his job demands him to do. This is what trooper Nathan Bradley displayed when he helped the children impacted by a car accident he responded to last Halloween.
What seemed to be another fun Halloween night in Georgia turned out to be tragic for Donald and Crystal. The couple were on their way to buy face paint and candy for an event when their car slid off and hit a tree.
When Officer Bradley heard about the accident over his radio, he rushed to the scene.
Bradley was trying to brush the worst possibilities off his mind, but when he arrived at the scene of the accident, the silence in the area confirmed his fears—no one survived the crash. He was worried about how he would break the news to their family. But he gathered some courage and went to the couple’s house after he got their address.
His heart was pounding while waiting for someone to open the door, but the truth that greeted him was enough to leave his world shattered—Donna and Crystal had four young children. There were a 10-year-old girl and 8- and 6-year-old boys, all donning their Halloween costumes. The eldest was a 13-year-old young dude, who told the officer their parents just went off to pick up some stuff for the Halloween.
Bradley then looked for the closest kin the kids had, and he found out that it was their parental grandmother who was living in South Florida. He also gave Child Services a call and informed them about what just happened.
As he was going about his normal duties, Bradley looked through his car window and saw the kids playing around and laughing. It pained him to think of how they would react to the news that they just lost their parents. He shared, “I immediately fell ill. Not only would these children discover they lost both parents, but would spend their Halloween in a county jail until somebody could tend to them; it just wasn’t right.”
So even though his job was done, Officer Bradley spent the next few hours with the kids. He took them out to eat and listened to their stories. He heard them proudly say that their mom was a good cook and that their dad once served in the army.
With his boss’s permission, the trooper took the kids to the Georgia State Patrol station and gave them a tour, and they went to watch some movies right after. Even though he’s still worried about them hearing the worst news they would ever hear in their entire life, Officer Bradley just wanted that moment to be perfect for them.
A corporal of Trooper Bradley and his family brought popcorn and candies and some Disney movies. More people brought goody bags for all four kids. A sheriff also gave each a bucket full of candies.
It would take at least 7 hours for the kids’ grandmother to arrive, so the officers asked her permission that they be allowed to spend the night in the post. Bradley slept with them. As he tucked them in, the girl told him, “You turned an F-Minus day into an A-Plus night!”—words that were warm but pained the officer, realizing how everything would change after they’d hear the news.
Their grandmother arrived before morning came, but she and Trooper Bradley agreed to wait till Halloween ended before they’d tell them the truth. They wanted them to remember the whole day as something full of all happy surprises.
The grandmother took the task to tell them the terrible news once they returned home.
When he sent them home, Trooper Bradley took one of his ball caps and wrote a note on it. He also gave them his phone number and told them to call him whenever they needed something. He knew the kids were already part of his life, and he wanted to give them more than just a painful good-bye.
After they parted ways, Bradley still did something for them. He set up a GoFundMe page for the children. He set a goal of $450,000, which he hoped would cover the cost of Donald and Crystal’s funeral and also establish the kids’ college trust fund. But because their story went viral, in just six days, they they received more than the goal they set.
Along with the financial support were thousands of encouraging messages from strangers. Some also sent clothing and care packages for the family. Some also extended prayers for their grandmother who was suffering from some health problems.
Before the whole family moved to Florida, Nathan Bradley went to pay them a visit. He shared a hug with the eldest sibling, Justin, which the trooper said was so warm he could feel it through his suit. He and the kids remained in touch. They were even expected to attend his wedding.
Trooper Nathan Bradley shared that he did all that out of love. He said, “It’s the first time in the line of duty I told someone I loved them and I do love them. I care about them a lot.”