Georgia state trooper Nathan Bradley isn’t a “touchy-feely kind of guy,” the officer told WSBTV. “I don’t have kids.” Yet he took four under his wing on Halloween in a selfless display of caring after the children’s parents, Donald and Crystal Howard of Newborn, Ga., were killed when their car veered off the road and hit a tree while they were driving to buy face paint for the kids’ costumes.
Bradley was among the officers tasked with contacting the rest of the Howard family, which he quickly discovered included kids ranging in age from 6 to 13 (shown above). When he knocked on the door of their home, Bradley saw “children in full costume — a 13-year-old Freddy Krueger, a 10-year-old daughter of Dracula, an 8-year-old wizard, and a 6-year-old who appeared to be a firefighting ninja turtle,” he wrote of Justin, Amaya, Damien, and Travion on a GoFundMe page that he set up for the orphans. “We were lost [for] words.”
The late Crystal and Donald Howard. (Photo: KSDK)
But with a seven-hour wait for the next of kin — their grandmother who lives in Florida — to arrive, the officer explained he felt compelled to care for them personally and delay the tragic news about their parents’ passing until after Halloween so that the holiday wouldn’t be forever marred for them. “I’m nearly a quarter century old in age; I’ve never been responsible for a child’s life, and suddenly I was the custodian of four,” he wrote, detailing how he was determined to distract them from the sad reality of their loss. (Bradley didn’t return Yahoo Parenting’s request for comment). “Not only would these children discover they lost both parents, but they would spend their Halloween in a county jail until somebody could tend to them; it just wasn’t right.”
State trooper Nathan Bradley. (Photo: WSBTV)
So he dodged questions about their parents and explained that their grandmother was coming to get them, yet would take a while, so he was going to treat them to dinner. The kids asked for McDonald’s and Burger King meals, which he provided before taking them back to the police station for the night. After a tour of the facility, Bradley wrote that around 10 p.m. the police corporal stopped in with his family, candy, popcorn, and “a variety of Disney films.” The sheriff followed with “four holiday buckets full of candy!” continued Bradley. “The kids were so excited. … The little girl grabbed my attention when she said, ‘You turned an F-minus day into an A-plus night!’ I can’t begin to explain how hard it was to hear that, considering the night would be memorable, but for reasons that were yet to be disclosed to them.”
Once the grandmother arrived, she shared the news about their parents’ death and began the process of moving the children to Florida to live with her. With all the changes the family is enduring, Bradley remains determined to help, which was why he shared their story. “It’s the first time in the line of duty I told someone I loved them, and I do love them,” he told 11 Alive. “I care about them a lot.” To WAGA he explained, “They are the perfect, the kids you wish to have. Smart, funny, intelligent, patient.” And thanks to him, they’ll have some fond memories of that life-changing night.
(Top photo: Family photo)