Just a few days ago, this picture was posted to Reddit with the caption: "Police officer distracts child whose family was in horrific accident where father died."
What was this officer's motivation? Why did he think it was important to spend time comforting and shielding this toddler from the terrible scene of an accident where her father was killed?
According to Officer Nick Struck, he only did what he hoped another dad would do if it was his daughter involved in the accident. Officer Struck says he was the third officer to arrive to the scene of the deadly accident on Interstate 76 in Brighton, Colorado, this past Thursday.
A family of six was driving down Interstate 76 on Thursday morning when their SUV's tire burst, causing the car to flip. The father died behind the wheel, and the toddler and two siblings were taken to the hospital. The mother and another child were airlifted to the emergency room. No one in the car was wearing a seatbelt.
This photo was captured by witness Jessica Matrious at the exact moment Officer Struck was handed the young girl at the scene of the crash. Officer Struck distracted the toddler by singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" as emergency responders pulled her family out of the wreckage.
Officer Struck told 9 News, "When you hear that there's children involved, I'll tell you what, everyone that responds to that scene, you get that pit in your stomach. The first thing we do when we get on scene is we just try to, if we can comfort anybody, of course we're going to go to the kids."
In response, Reddit's comment section filled with similar stories of kindhearted police officers who spent time with them as children during some of the most tragic events of their lives. Top commenter mrsvEcho says of a time when police came to arrest her mom and stepdad, "I was crying and being a typical whiny 4-year-old (I was also malnourished and dirty), and this one cop kept me company in the house while everyone else was outside discussing things. He read me a book and played with my stuffed animals with me, and we had a lot of fun. After I was removed from the home, he showed up at my court appearances for almost a year."
Officer Struck may not have participated in hands-on rescue, but what he did for this little girl inarguably changed the course of her life. Instead of putting her to the side and trying to help contain the chaos, Officer Struck, also the father of a 2-year-old girl, just stood with her quietly. He made her feel safe at a potentially traumatic moment in her life that could have stuck with her forever.
This police officer and dad humbly describes the photo as simply doing his job. "So then the role we do is, to keep them safe, what would I want that dad to do if it was my daughter." Officer Struck says any of the other officers would have done the same thing in his shoes.
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