Witnessing an accident is scary, especially for young kids. The sight can leave them frightened and traumatized for a long time, especially if they know the victim.
The kindness a few officers showed two girls made a big difference—and inspired them to pay it forward.
Just before last Christmas, Savannah Case, from New Mexico, was about to go run some errands with her 5-year-old twin daughters Marlie and Lucy.
But then, a freak accident struck.
When Case stopped the car to pick up the girls, she forgot to put it in park, and the car began rolling backwards … while her daughters were behind it.
The mother quickly took action to stop the car:
“I jumped to try to get back into the driver’s side to stop the vehicle from rolling because the girls were behind it, and I couldn’t,” she told Inside Edition.
As she reached for the brake, she was knocked by the car door and pulled underneath the car.
“It completely rolled over my left side, down my leg and basically dragged me underneath and ran me over.”
Police and paramedics responded and arrived on the scene, and the 5-year-olds watched on in confusion.
Officer Gabe Sanchez of the Rio Rancho Police Department spotted the girls watching all these emergency vehicles come for their mom, and his parental instincts kicked in.
“They seemed unsure what was happening, all they saw were firetrucks and a police officer,” Sanchez told Inside Edition. “Being a parent myself and having a little girl, naturally I wanted to go over there and make sure they were okay.”
The officers struck up a bond with the twins: Officer Sanchez is a twin himself, and his partner, Officer Justin Garcia, has twin girls of his own.
The officers’ reassurance seemed to calm the girls down, but Sanchez had a surprise in his police car that really made all the difference:
He gave them stuffed animals!
Sanchez said he keeps the toys in his squad car for situations like this, to comfort kids during frightening situations.
“My wife actually buys stuffed animals for me to keep in my car,” he said.
It paid off—the simple act of receiving a stuffed animal really changed the girls’ day.
“It made us very happy,” Marlie said. “It helped me because it’s soft and I like stuffed animals.”
It also made a big difference for their mother, who was later feeling guilty that her daughters had to witness her accident.
“When I found out at the hospital that they received the stuffed animals and that they calmed down, that helped relieve some of the anxiety I had that night,” Case said.
The act of kindness left a lasting impact on the girls, so much so that it was still on their minds months later when they were preparing for their sixth birthday.
They decided they wanted stuffed animals as gifts … but not for themselves:
They asked people to donate stuffed animals to the police!
The police don’t always have stuffed animals to go around, but the girls know firsthand the difference it can make and want any kid in their shoes to have that comfort.
“We wanted to give it to kids to make them feel better,” Marlie said.
The girls threw a birthday party and attendees brought over 50 stuffed animals, which the twins donated to the police department.
It’s an inspiring story about the impact small acts of kindness can have. And not only that, Marlie now says she wants to be a police officer herself when she grows up, and Lucy wants to be a firefighter, just like their heroes.