A tragic photo shows a heroic Brighton police officer holding and comforting a little girl who just lost her father in a car crash. The officer is shown in the photo taken at the scene of the crash trying to distract the attention of the girl while her parents and siblings were pulled from the wreckage of the car.
The officer, identified as Nick Struck, shared his experience for the first time after the photo went viral online.
Brighton police officers were called to the scene of an crash that occurred on Colorado’s Interstate 76 in Brighton Thursday at about 9:30 a.m. The accident involved an SUV carrying a family of six. The SUV crashed after the tire burst and the driver lost control, according to eyewitnesses.
The father, who was driving the car, died while four children and their mother were taken to the hospital.
Officer Nick Struck is shown holding one of the four children, a 2-year-old girl, rescued from the wreckage.
A witness, Jessica Matrious, captured officer Struck on camera at the scene of the crash at the moment he was cradling the girl in his arms making efforts to distract her while rescuers worked to pull the rest of the family from the wreckage.
Matrious later uploaded the photo online, and it went viral quickly.
Matrious told 9News she was driving on Interstate 76 when the crash happened. She recalled that the car took a sudden sharp turn, veered off the road, and rolled on the grass.
“They took an extreme sharp right turn and just immediately started to roll. I pulled over, obviously, and started running to the field to see what I could do.”
According to Struck, he was the third officer to arrive at the scene of the accident off 1-76 near E-470. A first responder handed the toddler to him as rescuers worked to pull her parents and siblings from the vehicle.
Struck – father of a 2-year-old – tried to draw the little girl’s attention away from the distressing sight of wounded family members being pulled from the wreckage by turning away from the crash and talking to the little girl soothingly.
No doubt, being a father helped him to know what to do to keep the little girl calm as other members of her family were being rescued from the wreckage.
The officer later said he sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to comfort the girl at the scene of the accident.
“I have a 2-year-old daughter and she’s my first kid. So of course, your first thought is that could be your little daughter.
The first thing we do when we get on scene is we just try to, if we can comfort anybody, of course we’re going to go to the kids. So then the role we do is, to keep them safe, what would I want that dad to do if it was my daughter.”
He added, “I know for my daughter, it’s just the attention that someone is there, listening. It is the same for adults, but kids, they take it on a whole other level. They’ll gravitate to you, and I remember when I was holding her, she was grabbing the back of my arm, which is something my daughter does. Just stroking to the music, ‘twinkle, and twinkle.’ ”
The mother and one sibling were airlifted to a hospital, while two other siblings were taken by road. But the father did not survive the crash.
The condition of the mother and children remains unknown.
Police said they were investigating the accident but confirmed that nobody in the car was wearing a seatbelt at the moment the car lost control.
Matrious said, “It’s so horrible to see something like that happen, especially because it could have been prevented. If the father was wearing a seat-belt, then he’d still be here.”
Police have not revealed the identity of the family.
[Images: Jessica Matrious]