An Indiana police officer who stopped traffic in order to rescue a lost teddy bear from the fate of oncoming traffic says that, as a father, he knew the bear was special to someone.
"I know how important those are to kids," Jason Cullum, a sergeant with the Evansville Police Department, told GoodMorningAmerica.com. "We carry teddy bears in our car because we know when we talk to kids having a bad time, if you give them a teddy bear it helps them relax and makes them feel better."
"I have a 10-year-old son who has a teddy bear that he's had for years. The only issue I have is that he dresses him up as a fireman," Cullum joked.
There was no joking last Saturday when Cullum, a 15-year police veteran, was driving to work and saw cars starting to slow down ahead of him on the highway ahead. As Cullum, 40, got closer, he realized the cars were slowing down and swerving to avoid running over a stuffed teddy bear in the middle of the road.
"I stopped traffic behind me and got out and got it and put it in my passenger seat," he said.
As Cullum continued driving, he noticed two men walking on the side of the road and pulled over to ask if they were searching for a lost teddy bear.
"I surprised the guy because he asked me to repeat myself and then said, 'Yes, it's mine,'" Cullum said.
The two men walking were the relieved father and grandfather of the bear's owner, eight-year-old Nikki Mayo, who were moving the family and had packed the bear, along with other items, on a trailer.
Cullum returned the bear to the two men, but the story didn't end there. After the Evansville Police Department posted the dashcam video of Cullum's good deed on its Facebook page and it was reported by local media, Cullum got a call from the Mayo family saying that Nikki wanted to thank him herself for rescuing her beloved bear.
The two met face-to-face last night for Nikki to give what Cullum described as a heartfelt and much appreciated thank you.
"She told me the bear's name is Chocolate," Cullum said. "It was her first teddy bear and she's had it since she was four years old, so it was very special to her. I got to see in her face that the bear was special to her."
"That was pretty special for me," he said. "When you do police work, you do a lot of negative work and don't expect a lot of thank you's, so when you do get a thank you and to see her how holding the bear, that made it more special. "