ATLANTA - A Georgia State Patrol trooper was honored on Thursday after the kindness he showed for four orphaned children when their parents were killed in a car wreck on Halloween.
Trooper Nathan Bradley responded to the crash in Morgan County that killed residents Donald and Crystal Howard. They were returning home after going to the store to buy face paint for their children. Bradley, along with a county deputy, and deputy coroner went to the couple's home to notify the next of kin, and were greeted at the door by the Howards' four children, ages 13, 10, 8, and 6-years-old, all dressed in costumes and waiting for their parents to return home.
"They kept reassuring 'My parents will be here soon, they went to the store to get more candy and face makeup; they’ll be right back.'" Bradley said.
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They had no family in the area and would have to be turned over to the Department of Family and Child Services while authorities tried to locate a family member. Watching the children play in the front yard, unaware of their parents' deaths, the trooper said he felt ill. Not only would the children discover they'd lost their parents, but they would spend Halloween in a county jail until someone could tend to them. Trooper Bradley decided to care for the children until their grandmother arrived from Sarasota, Florida, which is a seven hour trip.
He got his supervisor's permission to care for the children, and then took them to get something to eat. Afterwards he brought the children to the GSP Post in Monroe where they were joined by his Corporal's family. They brought the Howard children candy, popcorn and a variety of Disney films. Other residents who heard what happened showed up at the post with goodie bags and toys. Trooper Bradley said the Sheriff also showed up with four buckets filled with candy.
The children have since moved to Florida with their grandmother, but before they left Trooper Bradley set up a GoFundMe account. His goal was to raise $7,000 to help cover funeral expenses, but that goal has been exceeded by more than $490,000.
Trooper Bradley’s story was shared nationwide and on Thursday Georgia Governor Nathan Deal honored him for going far beyond the call of duty.
“Thank you to TFC Nathan Bradley and our state patrol, who always go above and beyond in the name of service.”