There wasn’t a dry eye in the house Saturday at the Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School graduation in east Texas, as 18-year-old graduate Kazzie Portie shared an embrace with Orange county police officer Eric Eillison.
Just a week earlier, Portie’s parents had died in a motorcycle wreck. And Officer Ellison was the one who had to tell him the news.
As the Washington Post reports, on May 24, Kazzie was at home alone while his parents were out for a motorcycle ride. Unbeknownst to Kazzie, an alleged drunk driver — 29-year-old Travis Collins — had crashed into them, killing them both instantly. Officer Eric Ellison was given the job of going to the teen’s home to tell him the tragic news.
Ellison admits that telling the young man that his parents had died was one of the hardest things he’s had to do in his 21-year-career. With less than a week to go before graduation, and his parents now gone, the young man said that he didn’t know what to do.
“I said, ‘You are going to walk! Your mom and dad will have front-row seats looking down from heaven, and I’ll stand in their place. I’ve got your back.”
On Saturday, Ellison kept his promise and stood with his new 18-year-old friend at his high school graduation. As he took the stage, the audience erupted into raucous applause, according to the Daily Mail.
Kazzie’s brother, Blake Henning, explained that that’s just the type of person Officer Ellison is.
“Not only was he the one to inform our family of this tragedy, he was on the scene and stayed with my parents until the paramedics arrived. He was genuinely torn up about the entire accident.”
Kazzie himself echoed those feelings about the Texas cop.
“My parents talked in the last month how proud they were of me for graduating, and not just for graduating, but how proud of me they were for the man I have become. Seeing Officer Ellison there to congratulate me meant the world to me. It was so nice to see that he actually showed a genuine care for me and my family’s situation instead of us just being another ‘case.’ “
For his part, Officer Ellison said he was only doing what he felt was right. Writing on his own Facebook page, the Texas cop said that Saturday was about Kazzie, not him.
“I am HUMBLED for the positive comments I’ve received about being there for Kazzie. I just want everybody to remember that through this tragedy, this was ALL about Kazzie and his day to shine. I just did what I would want someone to do if I had left my girls early.”
Kazzie says that he intends to go through with his plans to go to college; hopefully, Officer Ellison will be there for that graduation, to stand in Kazzie’s parents’ place as well.
[Image courtesy of Instagram]