An N.C. Highway Patrol trooper stationed in Orange County went a few extra miles for a little girl after her family wrecked on I-40 last week.
A Charlotte father was driving the family car east on Thursday near the interstate’s Hillsborough exit when his eldest daughter, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, yelled because she thought a truck in the next lane was going to hit them, Trooper Michael Dodson said.
The father jerked the steering wheel, sending the car into the median, where it hit and then passed under the cable wire before crossing into the westbound lanes, he said.
“He realized where he was at and pulled over on the shoulder,” said Dodson, who responded to a call about the accident. “They were really, really lucky.”
While the father talked with the tow truck driver, Dodson took his youngest daughter, 5-year-old Mary, to pick something from a bag of donated toys he keeps in the patrol car’s trunk. The toys are donated by individuals, so the troopers can give them to children they encounter on the job.
Mary, holding tight to her new Minnie Mouse doll, decided she wasn’t going with her family when they piled into the tow truck for the ride to Hillsborough, where someone was picking them up, Dodson said.
“She talked a lot,” he said. “I had to carry her from the wreck to Walmart in my patrol car. I had to put the car seat in. She got right in there and rode.”
Mary also got to try on his Highway Patrol hat, said Dodson, 46, who moved to Orange County’s Highway Patrol office from Caswell County in March. The 13-year Highway Patrol veteran also worked with the Caswell County Sheriff’s Office, he said.
“The special moment for me is, No. 1, there’s no one hurt. That’s the main thing,” Dodson said. “The next thing is when you have a kid involved, it’s special to me when I can interact with the child and make them feel comfortable with law enforcement in general.
“That’s when I ask them to come to my car, and 99 percent of them will without mom and dad.”