When this Brighton, Colorado, cop attended the scene of a car crash, he was given the role of comforting a two-year-old girl caught up in the catastrophe. It was a serene moment captured among a backdrop of utter chaos and devastation – and how he gave her solace will melt your heart.
It all started when a couple from Peoria, Illinois were undergoing a move to Colorado in order to better gain work. Stephanie Greer was traveling to her new home alongside husband Carlos Torres and their four children: Zayden, four; Sophia, three; Sirena, two, and four-month-old Cruz.
Back then, they could never have known their dreams of a better life would turn into a nightmare. But on the morning of their move, disaster struck while the family drove along Interstate 76. At around 9:30 a.m., while driving along the freeway, one of the tires of their vehicle burst.
Next, while unable to control the car, Greer headed straight into a grass verge. She later told the Peoria Journal Star, “I eased the brakes slowly but we were on three tires. I had no control.” As a result, the SUV plowed left into a field and started spinning over and over.
And as the car rolled through the grassy field, all six occupants of the vehicle – Greer, her husband and four children – were consequently flung from the wreck. Significantly, police reported that none of the passengers had been properly secured in the car.
Greer’s husband, Torres, was traveling up front in the passenger seat. Because he was not wearing a seat belt, he was tossed through the open passenger window. Meanwhile, Greer’s leg became trapped when the vehicle landed on her after she was thrown clear. Some time later, though, medical crews finally began to arrive to deal with the family.
Tragically, however, Torres was pronounced dead at the site of the crash. Next, after paramedics and fire crews had freed Greer from underneath the wreckage, their attention turned to the children. In addition to their parents, all four of them had also been thrown from the crashed car.
Indeed, while Greer suffered serious injuries when the tendons and ligaments of her leg were ripped apart, her children also needed urgent medical attention. Specifically, three-year-old Sophia had a snapped collarbone and baby Cruz fractured his pelvis and both legs.
And four-year-old Zayden would be treated for several fractured bones as well as a major brain injury. Miraculously, though, the fourth child, two-year-old Sirena, was lifted from the wreckage completely unharmed. Distressed and crying, she was cared for by emergency services.
After arriving at the scene, police officer Nick Struck had initially tended to Zayden. When he realized that the boy wasn’t responding, though, paramedics handed him Sirena. And as Struck was aware of the devastation surrounding them, he whisked the girl away to distract her.
Of course, police officers are trained in dealing with traumatizing situations and provide a vital role in offering support to victims in difficult situations. However, there are some circumstances when the reality of what they’re dealing with hits a little closer to home.
So, when the little girl was handed to Struck, something hit him. “I took her away into the little grass field,” he told CNN in June 2015. “And that’s when all my emotions started coming to.” Why? Because the little girl reminded him of his own two-year-old daughter.
Indeed, as he carried Sirena away from the carnage, Struck thought of his own baby girl at home. He added to CNN, “That’s where I thought, ‘Oh man, this little girl’s the exact same size as my little girl. She’s crying. She’s soaked in gasoline.’” And what happened next could not have been predicted.
Keen to distract Sirena from the most terrifying situation of her short little life, Struck’s fatherly instincts kicked in. So he started doing exactly what he would have done to comfort his own little girl: he began singing to her.
And as the officer softly sang “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” it created a moment of calm among the chaos surrounding them. Furthermore, as Struck sang one of the verses, a bystander took this photograph while he comforted the distressed child.
As Struck would tell FOX31 Denver in June 2015, “My daughter, who’s the sweetest thing in the world when she falls down and cries, she wants “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” sung to her. So, this girl, I was singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and pointing to the lights on the fire truck.”
“My daughter will start singing halfway through,” Struck added to CNN. “And she’ll stop crying and kind of calm down. So I tried that with this girl, and sure enough, it worked. She stopped crying. She was just rubbing my shoulder with the beat.”
Incredibly, Struck, who had been entirely focused on Sirena, hadn’t even realized somebody had taken their photo in that moment. He later told CNN, “I had no clue [the bystander] was right there. It was just me and that little girl.”
That bystander was Jessica Matrious, who witnessed the crash and saw the child relax in his arms. Speaking to FOX31 Denver, she said, “[Struck] was definitely trying to keep her from watching what was going on behind her.” Sirena’s mom Greer added, “If he hadn’t preoccupied her, she would’ve seen her dad die.”
“As an officer you’re prepared [for situations like this],” Struck told USA Today. “But when it’s kids, and kids are hurting and in pain, it’s the worst. And knowing that that little girl is not going to have her dad definitely makes it hard.” Indeed, while it’s a horrifically tragic story and these kids have lost their dad, let’s hope that at least it puts the message home that it’s essential to wear a seat belt at all times while in a moving vehicle.