Most missing children stories we hear about today end up with a body being found in the woods or tall grass somewhere or children returning physically and emotionally scarred. This thankfully was not the case for Nicholas Gomez. He was fortunate to have someone spot him in the right place and right time—leading to a rescue that could have instead been a near-miss.
Courtney Best, a 26-year-old delivery car driver at Papa Murphy’s Pizza in Hamlin shopping center in Corpus Christi, Texas, was taking a break in front of the shop.
Normally, Best took her breaks at the back of the shop. Normally, Best didn’t look at her phone while having a smoke. And normally, Best ignored the Amber Alerts that would pop up.
But today she just happened to pull out her phone while taking her break in front of the store, facing the parking lot, and saw an alert searching for a white car that police suspected held a boy that had been kidnapped.
And as she looked up from her phone—she saw a car suspiciously similar to the one described in the alert.
At first, Best was hesitant about the car but then she noticed something odd about the people who got out of it. A man and a boy left the car and headed for the family dollar store nearby.
But the boy looked scared.
“And I was like—‘No, that’s not him,'” Best recalled her disbelief.
“My stomach started knotting up, so I was like, ‘Ahh, I’m gonna go, I’m gonna check and see,'” she said.
Needing to do the right thing, she hopped into her car to approach the white Avenger, and saw that the license plate number indeed matched the car the police were searching for.
She immediately phoned the police. She continued to follow the car while on the phone with the police and when they reached Staples Street the police were waiting for him. The police arrested the driver in the parking lot of CCFD Fire Station 7 in July 2015.
“What are the odds?” Best said, still stunned after the suspect had been apprehended. A series of unusual events had had to occur for her to be in the right place at the right time. Had she hesitated, they might have driven off before Best had gotten a chance to report what she saw.
The boy who had been kidnapped was 7-year-old Nicholas Gomez who had been reported missing the night before from about 5 p.m. and was reportedly taken by his mother’s boyfriend, Channing Galbraith, after the two had gotten into an argument. His mother had told the police that Channing had left with her son to go fix a bike but never returned.
Channing has a criminal history and was reported to have been charged with sexually assaulting a child in July the previous year. He was arrested on kidnapping charges, and Nicholas was taken to Driscoll’s children’s hospital and check for injuries but was okay.
This a touching story and although Courtney told reporters that she does not want to be regarded as a hero, there is nothing else to call her. Anyone who puts themselves aside to help, and in this case save, someone else is a hero in the true sense of the word which proves that heroes don’t always wear capes and walk among us every day. A young boy was saved from an uncertain outcome by a complete stranger.
Courtney Best told reporters that she never used to pay attention to the alerts on her phone but now will pay more attention from now on.
We thank Courtney for her courageousness in what have could up turning into a dangerous situation.