September 1, 2015
An Indiana family of 8 is on a trip to the Grand Canyon, and then on to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado when on the road the unexpected happens. Their vehicle hits an unavoidable object that was in the roadway puncturing their gas tank. 900 miles from home two parents sitting in a disabled vehicle with their six children on the highway can be very nerve wracking especially when you don’t know a soul in the area. Unless you happen to be fortunate enough to be in Oklahoma when State Patrolmen Aaron Hunter and Chris Newcomb are around.
Jason and Natalja Harrison and their six children – 16 year-old Isabell, Jacqueline, 14; Abigail, 12; Alexandra, 10; Euerly, 6; and Abram, 3 – were on the second day of their family vacation when things took an unexpected turn and their gas tank was punctured by a piece of metal in the road.
After calling 911 Patrolman Aaron Hunter arrived at first and spoke with the family and helped them with a course of action to continue on a family vacation as best as they could considering the circumstances. Hunter got troopers Newcomb and Lt. Paul Christian to help transport the family to OHP headquarters in Clinton where he knew peope that could be of assistance to the Harrisons.
According to the Clinton Daily News who interviewed Jason Harrison Patrolman got toys for the children to play with while they even got service stations arranged to fix the vehicle for the family. They then arranged hotel accommodations for the family and made them comfortable.
“The crazy part of it is how they all worked together just out of the kindness of their heart,” said Jason. “They found us a place here to stay so the kids still get a vacation, and they found someone to get the van repaired. Something else that was pretty cool is they got us a personal vehicle, from one of their family members, to borrow. Then the owner of this hotel (Holiday Inn Express) gave us dinner last that night.”
The vehicle that they were loaned came from Newcombs aunt who had a second vehicle. The vehicle had a poor battery in it though so the Patrolmen attempted to charge the battery so that they Harrisons would not have another breakdown with that vehicle as well. However the charge did not take. So Patrolman Newcomb went to his own home and got a new battery from there and installed it in the vehicle in the middle of the night and had the car ready for the Harrisons before they even woke up the next morning. They were able to go to church services as planned.
After Church services they joined a large gathering of the Newcomb family for lunch at Camdens.
The owner of the hotel that they stayed at is named Walt Schumacher, he is also the owner of the Water-Zoo, he provided the family with dinner Saturday evening, allowed them to stay at the Holiday Inn free and gave the entire family access to the Water-Zoo at no charge.
Mr. Schumacher was happy to make these gestures for the family stating to Clinton Daily News “Thirty-nine years ago I made Clinton my home town because of the people. In all my travels I never saw another town where I wanted to live – not in the United States, not in Europe and not in Asia. I am so proud of the people in this town, not because of what we did, but because of the way the people in this community responded!”
As for the family, They may not have made it to the Grand Canyon, but they got something perhaps better. They met decent people who were willing to help them and it was not lost on them as heard in their statements they made:
Jason said: “I firmly believe the Lord has His hand in this and we are just along for the ride,” he continued. “We can make plans but He is ultimately in control. Meeting people like this make this a special trip in itself.”
“We are just thankful for everyone who is helping,” said 16-year-old Isabell. Abigail, the 12-year-old, added; “It is amazing that what I thought was something bad, God has turned into something good.”
“We will never forget this for two reasons, the crash and then all the kindness we got,” said 10 year-old Alexandra with a huge smile on her face.
But for 3-year-old Abram, all the bad events of Saturday evening seemed to have been erased simply by getting to hold Trooper Hunter’s hat and they were sure gone when he found out he could go to the Water-Zoo too.
Photos Credit Oklahoma Highway Patrol Facebook