MORGAN COUNTY, Ga. - A GoFundMe page set up by a Georgia State Patrol Trooper for four children whose parents were killed in a car crash has raised more than $270,000.
Trooper Nathan Bradley first met the children after responding to a fatal car crash on Halloween night. When he went to the home to notify next of kin, he came face-to-face with the four kids in Halloween costumes.
"They were in their full costumes. I remember the 8-year-old -- he was an angry wizard so his face was partially red,” Bradley told Channel 2 Action News.
Their parents had left home to go buy more face paint for the kids when they crashed in Morgan County.
“I figured yeah, something bad must have happened, because if nothing bad happened then all these troopers wouldn't be here,” the oldest son, Justin Howard, said.
The closest relative was their grandmother eight hours away in Florida. So Bradley decided to stay with the kids until she could arrive.
"The 13 year-old walked outside the house and he didn't say anything. He just went to me and hugged me and just squeezed me," Bradley said. “I care a lot about them and I want to watch them succeed. I don't want this tragedy to shadow the rest of their lives."
Bradley and others in the community celebrated Halloween with the kids and kept the deaths of their parents from them.
“Our purpose was to preserve future holidays as far as Halloween goes. We wanted them to relate it to Nov. 1,” Bradley said.
Bradley then created the GoFundMe page to help with funeral costs and to transport the parents’ bodies to Florida, where they will be buried.
His goal was $7,000, but he had already raised more than $270,000 by Thursday afternoon.
“I'm astonished by the support of this family. You all are responsible for this success. The family wants to thank each and every one of you,” Bradley posted on the page.
Bradley also said he received 34,000 emails overnight.
“We live in a great nation and what better way to show that than supporting this family of a veteran,” he wrote.
Bradley says the family is planning to start a trust fund with the remaining balance.