Donald and Crystal Howard left their 4 children at home while they went to get more face paint for Halloween, only they would never return home.
It is a very sobering task to inform next of kin of tragic loss of life. One Georgia State Trooper was tasked with informing 4 children, dressed in Halloween costumes, that both of their parents had been killed in a vehicle accident. Trooper Bradley arrived at the Morgan County Home to deliver the heartbreaking information with two other officials and his heart swelled.
“The door hesitantly opened and there behind the locked screen door stood four children in full costume — a 13-year-old Freddy Krueger, 10-year-old daughter of a Dracula, 8-year-old wizard and a 6-year-old that appeared to be a firefighting ninja turtle,” he wrote on the GoFundMe page he set up.
Justin Howard, the eldest son answered the door along with his brothers and sister. When asked if there was an adult in the home Justin replied, “My parents went to the store to get more face paint. They told us not to open the door for anybody, but they should be back soon.”
In that moment, Trooper Nathan Bradley knew he wanted to preserve these kids’ Halloween. With the closet relative, paternal grandmother, living seven hours away in Florida, Bradley knew that the children would be taken to the county Jail to wait for their grandmother. Rather than inform them that they were now orphans, Bradley took the children to dinner for burgers, fries and milkshakes.
Word quickly spread of the situation, and other people joined the plight to help preserve the Howard children Halloween as well as ones to come. People were moved to bring candy, toys and Disney movies for the children to watch, and Trooper Bradley gave the children a tour of the trooper’s post.
That night, the children were put to bed at the post, still blissfully unaware of devastating news. “You turned an F-Minus day into an A-Plus night!” the little girl told him at bedtime — words he found difficult to take in.
Knowing the struggle these children would face Trooper Nathan Bradley set up a GoFundMe page, to help the family with funeral expenses totaling over $7,000 which he had heard from the oldest son. Hoping to raise enough for funeral expenses and any extra remaining amount going towards the children’s education, hopes were exceeded when the GoFundMe amount soared over $277,000 from thousands of donations since it was created on November 3rd!
“I’m am astonished by the support of this family,” Bradley wrote as the donations flooded in. “You all are responsible for this success. The family wants to thank each and every one of you.”
Trooper Bradley’s compassionate act has garnered recognition nationwide, and inside is the Georgia Department of Public Safety; “Compassion is a core value of our Department,” it said in a Facebook post. “Trooper Bradley is a true example of that value.”
Trooper Bradley went above and beyond protocol to look after these children. Only in his early 20s, the trooper plans to stay in touch with family moving forward. “I care a lot about them and I want to watch them succeed,” he said. “I don’t want this tragedy to shadow the rest of their lives.”
The family has since gained overwhelming support, support they desperately need as their grandmother now has to accommodate 4 orphaned children.