Crystal and Donald Howard
11 Alive screenshot

A Georgia State Patrol trooper did all he could to preserve the good spirit of Halloween for four children who lost their parents in a fatal crash, 11 Alive reports

Donald and Crystal Howard, parents of four, had reportedly left home to buy face paint and Halloween candy when they lost control of their SUV, flew off the road and hit a tree, dying instantly, the news station notes. Trooper Nathan Bradley was given the task of going to the home and informing relatives of the tragedy, but when he was greeted by four kids in Halloween gear ready to go trick-or-treating, he couldn’t bear to ruin the holiday for them.

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With their grandmother’s permission, Bradley didn’t tell the children, ages 6 to 13, that their parents had died, but instead took them out himself. 

“The first thing I said was, ‘Hey, let’s go get something to eat,’” Bradley said. “They said, ‘My parents will be here soon.’ I said, ‘Your grandma wants you to hang out with me till she gets here.”

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The trooper treated the kids—Justin, Amaya, Damien and Travion—to dinner, movies and Halloween candy, followed by a sleepover. Bradley ended up spending some 12 hours with the children. 

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“The whole purpose was to preserve their Halloween,” Bradley said.

The following morning, when their grandmother arrived from Florida, the children were told about their parents’ accident. 

But the trooper wasn’t done with the family yet. Bradley also started a GoFundMe page to pay for Crystal and Donald’s funeral expenses so that the pair could be buried in Florida, where the children will be moving in with their grandparents. Within two days the fundraiser had raised $270,452 as of 2:45 p.m. EST Thursday. 

“It’s the first time in the line of duty I told someone I loved them, and I do love them,” Bradley said. “I care about them a lot.”

Read more at 11 Alive